Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Kissing Jessica Stein (2002)



Critic Consensus: A trite but refreshing and comical spin on nature of love.

Movie Info

A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman in this romantic comedy. Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) is a woman with a solid career as a copy editor, but her love life isn't much to write home about; she's been through a long series of disastrous first dates that refuse to evolve into second dates, and the well-intended advice of her best friend Joan (Jackie Hoffman) and former boyfriend Josh (Scott Cohen) isn't helping a bit. One day, Jessica is scanning personal ads in the newspaper with her friends, and she sees one with a quote from her favorite poet. Jessica reads on to discover that she has a lot in common with the person who placed the ad -- too much so, since it turns out the notice is from a woman, Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen), who manages an art gallery. Jessica figures it would at least be nice to hang out with someone who shares her interests, and she gives Helen a call. Jessica and Helen quickly strike up a close friendship that evolves into something more intimate, though neither of them has ever been involved with another woman ... and Helen is a bit more avid about her new romantic horizons than Jessica. As their relationship progresses, Jessica finds herself struggling with her feelings about her new sexual outlook, and she isn't sure how to break the news about her relationship to her mother (Tovah Feldshuh) as she tries to decide if she should bring Helen along to her brother's wedding. Kissing Jessica Stein was based on the off-Broadway play Lipschtick, which was written by Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen, who starred in the original stage production as well as this film adaptation; the film won both the Critics' Special Jury Award and the Audience Award at the 2001 Los Angeles Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (for sexual content and language)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 17, 2002
Box Office: $7.0M
Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site


Jennifer Westfeldt
as Jessica Stein
Heather Juergensen
as Helen Cooper
Tovah Feldshuh
as Judy Stein
Scott Cohen
as Josh Myers
Esther Wurmfeld
as Grandma Esther
Carson Elrod
as Sebastian
Ben Feldman
as Himself
Robert Ari
as Sidney Stein
Jennifer Carta
as Rachel, Dan's Fianc...
Ben Weber
as Larry
Christopher Berger
as Malaprops Guy
Hayden Adams
as Weird Smooth Guy
Kevin Sussman
as Calculator Guy
Jim J. Bullock
as Not-Yet-Out Gay Guy
Alysia Reiner
as Schuller Gallery Art...
Naomi Sablan
as Seductive Woman At G...
Jon Hamm
as Charles
Julie Lauren
as Josh's Date
Jimmy Palumbo
as Cheesy Pick-up Guy N...
Thomas Bolster
as Cheesy Pick-up Guy N...
Vinnie Vella
as Cab Driver
Vinny Vella Sr.
as Cab Driver
Peter Hirsch
as Stanley
Idina Menzel
as Bridesmaid
Adele Reichman
as Grandma Interrogatin...
Amy Wilson
as Bookstore Saleswoman
Ilana Levine
as Helen's New Girlfrie...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Kissing Jessica Stein

Critic Reviews for Kissing Jessica Stein

All Critics (124) | Top Critics (32)

The cast is wonderful and the story is commendably free of the sectarian us-versus-them tone of many romantic gay movies.

Full Review… | February 3, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's movie knows what it wants, what its limits are, and delivers its delights accordingly.

Full Review… | August 18, 2008
Top Critic

Pure pleasure.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Top Critic

Westfeldt and Juergensen's wordy script tries for both mainstream and offbeat, but gets lost in between.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Westfeldt and Juergensen are both appealing actresses.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Venturesome yet unthreatening, this movie is box-office smart enough to seem cutting-edge without ever drawing blood.

Full Review… | November 5, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kissing Jessica Stein


I have a girl crush on Jennifer Westfeldt (which seems appropriate for this movie about a buttoned-up Jewess trying on lesbianism to find her [7] true love[s]). Too bad she's all in a committed long-term relationship with hunk-o-man Jon Hamm.

Westfeldt as Jessica is so adorably neurotic and girl-next-door-pretty. My perennial favorite, Scott Cohen, is mean and tough but also sweetly anguished. Jessica and Helen's romance blossoms awkwardly and hilariously at first, but the moment Jessica comes over to take care of Helen when she's sick is a nice turning point. The movie debates homosexual politics a bit, but it doesn't end with a clear message about whether one should be with her own sex or the other. It also doesn't cheapen Jessica's lesbian relationship as a dalliance.

I also love how the script sneaks in bunches of word-nerd humor and suffering artist philosophy. Judy's monologue about how Jessica quitting the school play because she thought her costar wasn't good enough - and only really hurting herself - is a metaphor for her dating life is eloquent and insightful. Josh's realization at his happiness for Jessica's painting and his own novel writing is a necessary reminder for all creative artists. Blech.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


Just a really inspirational movie. It's all worth it for the single scene where Helen is sick.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

I thought this movie was supposed to be more of a comedy (just my perception, not a misleading trailer as often happens). So I got over that easily and enjoyed it.

Megan S

Super Reviewer

Kissing Jessica Stein Quotes

Judy Stein: And you came home after the first day of rehearsal and said to me, 'Mommy, I'm not gonna do it. I quit.' And I said, 'Jessie, my love, why?' And you said, 'Because my co-star isn't good enough. And if my co-star isn't good enough, then the play won't be good enough. And I don't want to be part of any play that isn't good enough.' And I thought to myself, oy. This child will suffer.
– Submitted by Letitia L (4 years ago)
Helen Cooper: What'd you do to be happy?
Jessica Stein: Nothing. I'm not.
– Submitted by Catherine M (4 years ago)

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