After an optimistic but nightmarish dating spree, neurotic New York journalist Jessica Stein happens upon an intriguing personal ad whose only drawback is that it's in the 'women seeking women' section. On a daring whim, she decides to answer it and, to her surprise, ends up instantly clicking with downtown hipster Helen Cooper. The women proceed to muddle through an earnest courtship in which, with conventional gender roles absent, they are forced to make it up as they go along.
This amusing but extremely derivative comedy would work better if it stopped congratulating itself in each scene. Maybe it should pay Woody Allen a royalty instead. The movie shamelessly takes the neuroses of Annie Hall and her tormented beau, Alvy Singer, melts them down and pours the secondhand brew into the troubled Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt). Jessica wants to be involved in a relationship, and she scours the personal ads for the right person. It just so happens that someone is Helen (Heather Juergensen), a downtown art gallery worker who's voracious for sex and a good time. The picture makes something of itself in its last third, when complications arise and Jessica gets another dimension. But by then, it has tread so carefully to hit the footprints that Woody Allen has left before it that you might not care. – Elvis Mitchell
2002-03-13 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Kissing Jessica Stein