Kissing Jessica Stein Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 15, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2012
Just a really inspirational movie. It's all worth it for the single scene where Helen is sick.
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2007
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.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2011
Sexuality in film is a very delicate thing. It can either be very offputting and offends the general public and the LGBT community, or it's innovative without being condescending to the audience or just highly unrealistic. This film is full of realism, it's heartfelt and loving with the relationship between two women, one of whom is straight to the point of repression, while the other is a free spirit who isn't defined by her sexuality in any context. Both are complete opposites in personality, history, and ethics at times. Somehow these women find a strange version of friendship and sexual upheaval, as Jessica navigates the new maze of lesbianism, and her partner becomes increasingly sexually frustrated with the antics of her Jewish princess of a girlfriend. It's a varied path for this girl who has always identified as straight, and is slowly falling into different ways to see herself. In the modern world no one has to stick to their assigned box, and so this film not only explores what it means to have sexual preference, but more importantly whether you love based on gender or based on sex. Jessica is perfectly neurotic, and her character is actually well fleshed out beyond that characteristic. She also fears failure to a great degree, which is another reason why she is so repressed and lacks the conviction to tell anyone about her new relationship. The other two principle roles are that of Jessica's ex (Cohen) and the woman she falls for (Jeurgenson). Jeurgenson and Westfeldt co-wrote the film, and act as equals throughout, always friends during the rollercoaster of their courtship. It's really remarkable while staying classically romantic and sweet. Just another example of gay going mainstream.
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2010
most people would say kissng jessica stein is a lesbian version of annie hall, which is about an intelligent jewish woman's search of love and her multi-faceted viewpoints of life in new york. but to me, it's NOT. honestly, i was not interested in this picture by a look at its poster, which seems like some chic-flick with cute title until one night i flipped to it on tv and watched along. then i found it is not really a chic flick. the two female leads look like real people around you, not drop-dead gorgeous like those delicious lipstick lesbians aestehticized by underground pop-culture in movies directed by david lynch or atom egoyan who seems to have an obssession with beautiful puss suddenly going gay.

the movie's main message is simple, consider it as some thesis statement, it would be: is there any chance that a metropolitan heterosexual single woman finds love in her same sex if the men all wind up being so un-satisfactory? jessica stein, a jewish woman who works as a copy-editor in new york, is so frustrated by datings because men around her don't seem to be that thrilling or she has too many idiocyncratic principles of her own about datings. (woman could name lists of reasons why men become such a turn-off..let's skip that cliche)...un-expectedly, she answers the classified ad on the newspaper from a lesbian who wishes to recruit a date. then these two meet and find each other quite desirable and intellectually stimulating. so the lesbian tries to convince jessian stein into engaging in the lesbian lovemaking step by step. jessica lets her do it because everything about this woman is alluring except the fact she's also a woman.

the movie tries to imbue a realistic air despite it still has one of those liberal-minded naivete from time to time. it features the parts how jessica stein has a hard time admitting to everyone and her family that the person who grants her such enormous happiness is also a woman, and the moment she holds her tears in front of her mom about this episode of her life is quite genuine. the movie emphasizes the emotional obstacle for jessica stein to confess her "temporal homosexuality" and as a matter of fact, she's also confined in her conservative mindset about gays. but eventually her family and friends accept this new change in her. (which seems quite utopic for the moment)

the merit about this picture is its honest answer to this queer experiement of heterosexual metropolitan woman: yes, you might seek your happiness from another woman, who doesn't have all the drawbacks of the men you used to date, but life won't be happy ever after just like that. i suppose, i was wrong in the first paragraph, yes, it is a chick flick about woman looking for love, but it chooses to be honest without granting a user-frriendly, surgar-coated, falsified ending like most chick flicks. the purpose of this picture is to state the queer space is a potential utopia for heterosexual woman who is willing to cross the line for new things (let's say, banging in the other way..) just like that pop song of katy perry's, "i kiss a girl", but after you kiss a girl, then what? the girl you kiss might as well ditch you aside more violently than any depressing man who has given you a hard time.

the movie ends with their relationship being dissolved due to the lack of sex, thus the lesbian dumps her under the reason that they behave like roommates who are nice to each other and she wants her romance with the whole "package" (which means she cannot go on without passionate sex) the picture finishes as two of them drinking coffee, smiling like a pair of good friends, and jessica stein is still single. at least, happily, self-sufficiently single.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2011
Disappointed with the New York dating scene, Jessica Stein embarks on a lesbian relationship, which is contrary to her upbringing and conception of herself ... no matter how right it feels.
It's not just Jewish neuroses that hearken thoughts of Woody Allen; the structure of the love story and ending also radiate Allen influence. Like some of Allen's films, the characters' high-energy histrionics occasionally wore on me, but the film as a whole doesn't confine itself to its influences, and the "let's take it slow" lesbian scenes are original and often subtly sexy, see especially the scene when the girls are hit on in a bar and flirt under the table. Additionally, there is one dramatic reveal in the third act that is particularly well-done.
What the film is saying, however, is still a mystery. Is this a story about the importance of sex? the unimportance or slippery nature of societal categories? the fact that friendship must under-gird a relationship? This is not an uncomplicated romantic comedy; instead the filmmakers are trying to give us that feeling we get at the end of most of Woody Allen's films: that feeling that we saw something charming, and it was fun but also a little sad, but we're still okay with that sadness. I see Kissing Jessica Stein reaching for that feeling, but I don't think it gets there.
Overall, Jennifer Westfeldt's bubbly neuroses and the film's sharp dialogue keep Kissing Jessica Stein a fun flick to watch, but it's not altogether light-hearted.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2010
I really enjoyed this movie. I've heard about it over the years, but never had the chance to watch it until it finally came in the mail via Netflix. I couldn't help, but get lost in the movie and everything about it.

Jessica is a late 20's Jewish girl, who can't seem to find Mr. Right. One day she comes upon an ad for women seeking women and meets up with the other lady. It's oh so comical, yet sweet & sexy.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2010
Jessica is Jewish, uptight, slightly neurotic and single. Everyone around her is married, dating, pregnant or something and she has to take grief from her family who want to see her "happy". Try as she might she can't find a guy that she likes enough to see twice. So when she sees an advertising from a woman looking for company she strangely finds herself responding and turning up to meet the bisexual Helen. The easy chat they have overcomes Jessica repulsion at the whole idea and soon they have become more than just friends. However can Jessica accept the truth herself far less be honest with others.

This is a strange mix of a film that mostly does enough to work. In some ways it seems to be a quirky independent film but in many ways it is just an OK mainstream comedy. Jessica herself seems to be a strange mix between the neurotic side of Woody Allen, the quirky side of Ally McBeal and the female side of Bridget Jones. It is a strange mix but it more or less works as a piece of entertainment even if it isn't as sassy and fresh as it thinks it is. The relationship between Jessica and Helen is delivered in a pacey fashion that doesn't quite ring true due to the lack of depth to it but it does enough to keep things moving along. Laughs are not that common but the general amusing air carries it along and, although the romance is basic and the characters thin, they it is easy viewing and they still engage if you are in an undemanding mood.

Westfeldt overplays her neurotic character a little bit but she just manages to keep her convincing. She has an easy chemistry with Lake which really helps cover up the lacking material they both have to deal with; it helps that they wrote it and were probably very in touch with what they were trying to do, even if they didn't necessarily do what they could have done. The rest of the cast pretty much match them in turning in workable but unspectacular performances ? not their failing but more to do with the fact that the script is breezy and light and not something a lot of depth can be brought out of. Herman-Wurmfeld's direction matches the light material and keeps it breezy.

Overall this is a pretty sweet little film although not as fresh and fun as it thinks it is. The two leads could have done more as writers but they do have a good feel for the material and their performances help cover the material. Not many laughs or insights but it is consistently amusing and nice enough to be worth watching if you are looking for something undemanding.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2009
Not without its charm but overall less than the trailer promised!
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2008
Cute, original, and funny. I definitely get a Woody vibe from this. But nobody does Woody like Woody, even if it is a lesbianized variation of him.
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2008
A mature look at adult relationships. Failing to find the right man for her Jessica searches for a female friend. It soon blossoms into more, but the film is as simplistic as that. It questions the needs of being labeled with a sexuality and also the key components in a relationship. It's a wonderful film with well written characters that avoid stereotype, no easy accomplishment with a film filled with gays and jews. Unfortunately not being American, Lesbian or Jewish meant the film did seem rather distant and still suggests that everybody needs somebody to be complete as a man or a woman. More amusing drama than romantic comedy.
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2008
While watching this, I kept flashing on Brokeback Mountain and thinking about how hard it is to have been in a gay relationship up until very recent times. Not that I'm guessing it's a piece of cake now for gay couples, but realizing how horrible people can be even up to the minute I'm writing this comment, and especially in earlier portrayals, and in recent portrayals of earlier times. But as dissimilar as these two movies are in tone, there is one very striking moment of similarity. If you recall the journey Ledger makes back to Gyllenhaal's home, where he finds the shirts in the upstairs bedroom closet, then you may know the shared moment I'm referring to here. Gyllenhaal's mother, played by Roberta Maxwell, is the great scene stealer of the whole movie. Her knowledge of and acceptance of the relationship between Ledger and Gyllenhaal, even though she does not speak of it and shows her compassion for their plight in powerfully moving non-verbal ways, is the great moment, for me, in Brokeback. Similarly, the great moment for me in Jessica Stein is Jennifer Westfeldt's mother, played by Tovah Feldshuh, knowing of and acknowledging her daughter's love for Heather Juergensen. No matter how cruel people can be in any era, love, even if it is a straightforward old-fashioned mother's love, can conquer plenty -- if not necessarily all. Finally, I want to say that Jackie Hoffman is terrific here. I notice she isn't in the flixster actor database. I shall remedy that pronto : )
Super Reviewer
½ November 7, 2006
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2006
[font=Arial][color=darkred]Bisexual romantic comedy? Well it has to be easier to sell to boyfriends than anything with Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Kissing Jessica Stein stars Jennifer Westfeldt as the perfectionist title heroine searching for true love in the Big Apple. She answers a personal ad sent by Helen (Heather Juergensen), an art gallery manager trying her hand at the fairer sex for the first time. What begins in comedic awkwardness turns to the fires of passion. Which leads to much more awkwardness as Jessica attempts to keep her secrets and the true identity of her "friend" from her mother.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Juergensen and Westfeldt wrote the script based on characters they have nurtured for several years, and their comfort level with the material shows. Each gives a wry and charismatic performance, with Westfeldt proving herself an acting revelation. It must be nice for her to have something else to her résumé than being one of the "girls" in Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Kissing Jessica Stein tiptoes a fine line with some characters possibly becoming gay or Jewish stereotypes, however they never do fall into the abyss of Caricature Land. Tovah Feldshuh, playing Jessica's mother, might make you wince at the thought that she'd be mired as a Mike Myers "Coffee Talk" portrait. But she has scenes where she shows real tenderness that is very affective.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]At times the movies feels a bit too wrapped up in its own precociousness. There's even a standard montage of bad dates that becomes annoying much sooner than it ends. Those looking for deep lesbian issues needn't apply here. Kissing Jessica Stein hits its targets on a surface level, which can be deemed appropriate for an innocuous romantic comedy. The downer closing 10 minutes seems to come from nowhere and betray the feel of the movie.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]The film plays by conventional rules for the most part but these don't diminish the healthy humor in the least. Kissing Jessica Stein is a charming and fun experience and would serve as a good date movie for prospective couples.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B[/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2010
Very pleasing story about an experimentation with a lesbian relationship. Entertaining.
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2010
Jessica is a "nice Jewish girl from Scarsdale" who's tired of less than perfect dates and being single. She decides to answer a personal ad for women seeking women. Ironically enough, the one who placed the ad, did so for pure experiment of the sexual kind. However, both women develop feelings for each other and get into a relationship. Beautifully written, wonderfully acted, this quirky New York comedy reveals a refreshing take on alternative lifestyles and things that straight couples deal with all the time clearly avoiding the seamier side of bi-sexuality.
Super Reviewer
November 30, 2007
Nice and weird.
Super Reviewer
July 9, 2012
An interesting look at this kind of situation.
Super Reviewer
½ April 25, 2008
It's hard not to love Jessica Stein. It really is one of my faves. Great dialogue, Great characters. Scenes I remember constantly over a decade later. Jessica seems so hard to like at first - but she becomes this very real and very honest and vulnerable woman.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
I only watched it because Michael Ealy was in it
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