In five years, I will be just about exactly Zach Braff's age in The Last Kiss, and if I act like he does in the film, I hope my dear friends will have the good sense to kill me in my sleep.

Based on an Italian film I have not seen (and this is the sort of material that Europeans tend to do better than Americans, but nothing in the story leads me to believe that it was ever bearable), The Last Kiss is the story of an unlikable, angsty 29-year-old who decides that it's just too scary to have a pregnant non-fiancée, and so he launches on a journey of self-loathing discovery. It reads and plays exactly as an update of Braff's overrated Garden State, right down to the annoyingly airy brunette who represents an ideal of womanhood as written by a man who has never seemingly interacted with a woman.

The scary thing is that Braff didn't write it - it's the work of Crash scribe Paul Haggis, and like that film it's an ensemble piece about many deliberately vague characters who represent just about everything other than an actual person. The protagonist Michael is ALL MEN SCARED OF COMMITMENT ON THE CUSP OF 30, and his girlfriend Jenna is ALL IMPATIENT WOMEN, et cetera. Except, of course, they're not: any time a character is self-consciously meant to be All People, it fails miserably.

An ensemble piece, and yet not a very good one - the focus is clearly on Michael, and his idiotic flirtation with a college girl, and so none of the stories of his wastrel friends comes together very well, yet far too much time is spent on their subplots. We are left with not remotely enough to like them or be interested in their lives, and yet too much to ignore, and so we just hate them for wasting our time.

The acting, across the board, is bad, although with material like this it's hard to blame the actors. Blythe Danner has the most to apologize for in her scene-chewing role as Jenna's sexually unsatisfied mother, a performance that clearly begs for an Oscar nomination. But no-one - not Braff in his whining glory, nor Jacinda Barrett as his initially absurdly tolerant, then absurdly vengeful girlfriend, and certainly not Rachel Bilson, playing a daffier version of her character from The O.C. if such a thing is possible - comes across as likeable or sympathetic. They are navel-gazers all of them, in the most alienating and disgusting way. Only Tom Wilkinson survives reasonably unscathed, and it's probably because he has the least dialogue of any major character - as Danner's estranged husband, he is largely stoic and his role is mostly to advise sucking it up and admitting that other people's problems matter more than your own. If this were Garden State, that sort of viewpoint would make him the villain, but here he's the de facto hero, as there is simply no-one else even remotely bearable.

Tony Goldwyn directed, but it's been a long time since I saw a film so utterly beholden to its script and cast, and the only bad thing I can say about the director is that he agreed to the project in the first place. It is a completely flat piece of cinema, without any interesting choices (worst moment: when the camera looks over Braff's shoulder across the water to signify Pensiveness and Yearning, or some damn thing, and it does this unironically). It's too much to say that I hated the film, but I can't be too positive about spending $9 to spend two hours with people that I so uniformly want to slap.