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Kiss off 

Just a Kiss is a cringe-inducing indie-wannabe that tracks the bed-hopping affairs of a group of shallow Manhattanites who look like a weathered, dissolute cast of "Friends."

The film is directed by actor Fisher Stevens, who leans on computer-generated animation effects to give it an intermittently graphic novel-look, but it has the style-for-style's-sake of an A-Ha music video.

Tomcatting swinger Dag (Ron Eldard), whose gel-dependent hair evokes the worst of the '80s, is the charisma-sucking chest wound at the center of this story. He is a TV commercial director famous for his artistry with a peanut butter ad starring his best friend Peter (Patrick Breen, also the film's screenwriter). Told in flashback, Just a Kiss examines the ripple effect of one infidelity on a group of city-dwellers, and it takes a very metaphysical approach to casual sex.

When Dag dogs Peter by sleeping with his neurotic ballerina girlfriend Rebecca (Marley Shelton), the consequences are devastating, as Dag's girlfriend Halley (a tired-looking Kyra Sedgwick) gets retribution by sleeping with a handsome stranger (Taye Diggs) whose own wife (Sarita Choudhury) becomes involved with Peter.

Like an STD, the connections just keep proliferating as Stevens draws in loopier and loopier material -- including a sadomasochistic bowling alley waitress, played by Marisa Tomei, who has the ability to revive wilted flowers -- in order to distract from the absence of any compelling reason for this film's existence. There's the impression these gestures are meant to be "quirky," but Fisher's command of a lighthearted, hipster ambiance feels distinctly second-hand.

Filled with grossly unlikable characters and flat-line dialogue that defies belief, the whole film feels like an off-the-cuff vanity project and a lousy waste of celluloid. Now playing at Barrett Commons 24 in Kennesaw.

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