By William Wolf

JUST A KISS  Send This Review to a Friend

The sassy, dark comedy creativity of director Fisher Stevens and screenwriter Patrick Breen makes "Just a Kiss" an offbeat delight. This is mischievous filmmaking that plays with infidelity and finds humor everywhere without regard to propriety. Stevens, an accomplished actor in this case directing his first feature, and Breen can see comedy in a plane crash or a wake.

Dag (Ron Eldard), who directs commercials, has a girlfriend, Halley, played by the always welcome Kyra Sedgwick. Dag's friend Peter, portrayed by Breen, the screenwriter, has a strange girlfriend named Rebecca, a dancer played by Marley Shelton. As fate would have it, Dag is in the position on one occasion of being tempted by Rebecca. The result is far from what he might have expected, and the film is off and running dealing with how couples may act when confronted with betrayal.

The humor is stressed at times by turning the principals into cartoon-like characters with a process called rotomation, and fortunately, the technique is not overdone. Basically, the take on the characters is what distinguishes the film. The creators are having fun with them and nothing is sacred if it can lead to a funny situation. Added to the collage is Marisa Tomei, playing against type as the menacing Paula, who has a sadistic streak as a dominatrix and sets her sites on Peter but meanwhile makes do with Dag. Manipulative Paula will do anything that justifies her ends. Zoe Caldwell also is funny as Rebecca's controlling, egotistical mom, a one-time dance star, and Sarita Choudhoury and Taye Diggs are enjoyable as others in the sexual merry-go-round.

"Just a Kiss" sparkles with whimsy. Keep an eye on what else may come from Stevens and Breen. A Paramount Classics release.


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