French Kiss

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FRENCH KISS  doesn’t really gum you into the food-of-life rhapsody suggested by its teasing title, delivering instead a series of safe, mostly agreeable smooches more in the form of pecks.

One of Meg Ryan’s cache of romantic comedies, this okay 1995 entry was directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and co-stars his favorite leading man, Kevin Kline. Kasdan ensures that it works smoothly enough and has requisite polish. The script was written by Adam Brooks.

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When her fiancée (Timothy Hutton) falls for a local beauty on a trip to Paris, ‘Kate’ (Ryan) flies over to win him back. On the flight her seatmate is swarthy French dude ‘Luc Teyssier’ (Kline), who has criminal tendencies (of the understandable, forgivable rom-com movie variety) and over the course of 111 scenic minutes the neurotic love-stiffed lady and her earthy acquaintance spar, team-up and—hold your overpriced croissant–could it be they will somehow find true l’amour?  As if that was ever in doubt.

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Ryan does her cute thing (she was one of the best at that), though it stretches cred that at 34 Kate is still so clueless (this harkens back to Doris Day fluff) and Kline enjoys riffing a French accent. It looks to run out of steam after the first third, and interest flags in the middle, then it changes gear into more character than chaos to rescue itself enough for the last act. Watchable, a scattering of smiles and laughs, forgettable.

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Public reaction in the States was mild, a gross of 38,897,000 only hitting 43rd place for the year, but foreign take brought it up to a healthy $101,984,000. With Jean Reno, Francoise Cluzet, Susan Anbeh and Laurent Spielvogel (the unhelpful concierge). Soundtrack features a number of French standards.

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Kline and Kasdan to date have collaborated on The Big Chill, Silverado, I Love You To Death, Grand Canyon, French Kiss and Darling Companion.

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