There are certain kisses, oftentimes finding home at the end of a movie, that make you feel all warm and gooey inside… until a couple of hours later, when you're looking back at what you saw, and a little voice in your head says, "Wait a minute…"
We're taking a look at the most memorable kisses in film from the '80s on, including the Best Kisses and the Worst Kisses. These, however, are the kisses that make us ask the question: romantic or creepy?
Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, Ghost
Poor Molly. She's lost her soul mate Sam and has a medium (Whoopi Goldberg) bringing her messages from him from beyond the grave. She's even gotten to share a kiss with Sam as he inhabits Whoopi's body. Then, his spirit finally at ease after righting the wrong that led to his death, a ghostly Sam appears and tenderly kisses her before going towards the light. Did you cry? Ditto.
Only… He's a freakin' ghost! There is a ghost right there, right in the room with you… transparent and bathed in some weird glowing light! Give Molly credit, because no matter whom it's the spirit of, when a ghost shows up most people run the other way.
Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln, Love Actually
Lincoln's Mark arrives at the home of his best friend (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his new bride, Knightley, who answers the door. Mark has her pretend that he's actually a Christmas caroler, quietly holding up cue cards to profess his love for her. Having gotten it out in the open, Mark takes his cards and walks away, down an empty London street. His unrequited love chases him down and gives him a sweet kiss before returning to her happy home, showing him that love is never wasted.
Only… For starters, she's married. To his best friend! Even if your best friend's wife is the insanely beautiful Knightley, you don't profess your love to her. And, if you're her, you don't go around kissing your husband's friends. Even in Britain we're pretty sure that's a rule.
Melanie Lynskey and Christopher Abbott, Hello I Must Be Going
Lynskey's Amy is going through a rough patch. She's getting divorced and is forced to move back in with her parents. Lucky for her, one of her father's business associates has a gorgeous young son, who, at a dinner party, follows her from the room and plants a passionate kiss on her. The love affair that follows awakens her soul and helps her rediscover life.
Only…Okay, so Abbott's Jeremy is legal, but just barely (he's 19). On the one hand, it's true that we've seen male characters on the older end of many a cinematic May-December romance, but we usually like the girl to be out of her teens once the story starts! Otherwise we get a little creeped out. It's no different just because it's Lynskey doing the canoodling.
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing
Swayze makes his second appearance on the list when his Johnny pours out his heart to Grey's Baby as she's trying to learn how to dance to help him and his partner out of a jam. He's misunderstood and she doesn't know what it's like to have married women that expect him to service them. The kiss itself is brief, but it comes as part of a larger dancing mating ritual that's as sexy as all get out.
Only… Wait, how old is Johnny? More importantly, how old is Baby? Even if it's legal, he's kind of taking some liberties with a guest at the resort he's working at… which is a touch skeevy. Plus, no matter how dreamy Swayze is, he kind of admitted to being a little bit of a gigolo.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair, Cruel Intentions
Gellar's privileged and bored Kathryn is lounging in the park with fellow young socialite, Cecile (Blair). The naïve Cecile confides that she's worried about kissing a boy, since she's never even been "to first base." Gellar, charged with helping to guide the younger girl, offers to give her a lesson on the art of the kiss. She shows her the proper way to touch lips before upping the ante and demonstrating how the tongue comes into play. As she pulls away from Cecile's first French kiss, Kathryn states simply, "That's first base." Teen boys everywhere wore out their family's first DVD player skipping back to the scene.
Only…Kathryn is every bit as bad as the French aristocrat from Dangerous Liaisons on which she's based. She's coldly manipulative and is really just using Cecile to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend and repeatedly tries to get her step-brother (Ryan Phillippe) to seduce her. Hot or not, there's got to be a better way for a girl to learn how to kiss.
Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis, Witness
Ford's hard-boiled detective is forced into hiding in a Pennsylvania Amish community as he tries to protect McGillis' young son (Lukas Haas) who has witnessed a murder. As Ford recovers from a gunshot wound, he gradually falls for McGillis' fair maid… whom he catches taking one of the sexiest sponge baths in any movie. Fully clothed, they share a moment dancing to Sam Cooke. Finally, they share an embrace that cuts across cultural differences.
Only…We're not saying that back in 1985 plenty of women wouldn't have risked being shunned by their entire community to swap spit with Ford, but this woman is casting aside everything she and her family have always believed in for some cop from Philly. Goodbye, old friends...
Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo, 13 Going on 30
13-year-old Jenna (played by Christa Allen) goes into a closet during her birthday party and emerges as a 30-year-old working at a fashion magazine (Garner). She realizes quickly that she's not the person that she thought she would be. Worse yet, she alienated her best friend Matt (Ruffalo) somewhere along the way. Just as he's about to marry someone else, Jenna is back to being 13 and launches herself at young Matt (played by Sean Marquette). The two rush up a set of stairs and emerge at their own wedding as Ruffalo takes a selfie of him kissing Garner, his blushing bride. It's so sweet dentists recommend brushing your teeth after viewing.
Only…Okay, so body-switching, time traveling movies always have some logistical problems. In this case, if 13-year-old Jenna made her feelings known to Matt, when exactly is this wedding taking place? Because it looks an awful lot like the one that 30-year-old Matt was about to have with his now non-existent fiancée. That's an awful lot of dating — or procrastinating — for a couple that's made for each other.
Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert, The Girl Next Door
Hirsch's Matthew spies his new neighbor getting changed and as luck would have it, it's Cuthbert, at the height of her teen dream-ness after wowing TV audiences as Jack Bauer's daughter on 24. She tells on him to his parents and, of course, they suggest that as punishment he spend more time with the new hottie. He takes her to a party where every jock in the place tries to get his swerve on with her. Fed up, Matthew walks up to her and kisses her. Far from being offended, she returns the embrace.
Only…Let's start with the fact that Matthew doesn't know that Cuthbert's character is a former porn actress until after he's already in love with her. Even if she really has a heart of gold, honesty is still the best policy.
Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, Ted
Wahlberg's John and Kunis' Lori have been dating for four years, only John isn't that much of a grown-up and pals around with one of his childhood toys, a talking stuffed animal named Ted, who has a thing for just about any vice that you can think of. John is given an ultimatum by Lori: me or the bear. As often happens, things work themselves out. John and Lori seal their "new" relationship with a kiss as Ted watches from the sofa.
Only…His roommate is a talking teddy bear, for goodness sake! That doesn't raise enough red flags for you to walk away from the relationship? We get that Marky Mark has a crazy good body, but come on. Don't come crying to us the first time that Ted shows up at a dinner party with a hooker.
Paul Rudd & Alicia Silverstone, Clueless
Silverstone's Cher is so busy trying to fix everyone else's life that she doesn't even see what's in front of her in this modern retelling of Jane Austen's Emma. Rudd's Josh, the son of one of her father's ex-wives, is an earnest college student who still lives with them part-time as he helps out at his step-dad's law office. Cher finally realizes that it's been Josh all along that has been there for her. The two share a tender kiss before officially becoming boyfriend-girlfriend.
Only… He's her step-brother! Sure, the marriage is over, but he certainly seems to think he's part of the family. Even in Beverly Hills, making out with your step sibling is frowned upon. As with some of the other ones on this list, there's also the nagging problem that even though the age difference may not be that great, she's only 16 and he's well into his college years. As if.
It would be easy for a screenwriter like Derek Haas to stick to one type of movie and grind away, writing it over and over and over again throughout his career. In a job that demands creative output, it's not unheard of. But that's far from the game plan that Haas has laid out for himself, as evidenced by the a breadth of work that includes blockbuster movies (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma — both co-written with writing partner Michael Brandt), indie dramas (The Double), and a hit TV show (NBC's Chicago Fire). Along with his onscreen work, Haas also dabbles in prose, having penned three novels (The Silver Bear, Columbus, and Dark Men) with a fourth, The Right Hand, hitting shelves this week. For Haas, penning a book is a vacation from the demands of Hollywood.
"You don't have to worry about focus groups, budgets, set pieces, or someone telling you you the main character needs a dog to be more likable," says Haas. "All of the s**t you have to do in movies. It's nice because you can let your mind go. I could jump points of view or give the thoughts of the characters. All of those things make it exciting to write prose."
The Right Hand follows Austin Clay, an intelligence operative who takes on the missions the American government would rather not acknowledge as its own ("The left hand can't know what the right is doing"). While tracking down a missing officer in Moscow, Clay's mission leads him to a young woman who harbors evidence of an elaborate conspiracy inside the top tiers of U.S. government. His investigation leads the spy down a rabbit hole and into a heap of danger — one that he's more than capable of shooting, knifing, or punching his way out of when he's on his toes, but dangerous still. For his central relationship, Haas was inspired by the Japanese film series Lone Wolf and Cub, while the espionage angle came from real life encounters with U.S. spies.
Around 2000, in the early days of their screenwriting career, Haas and Brandt researched a movie for Universal that gained them access to members of the FBI and Quango. "We were working on a thing that an FBI agent had written that they wanted us to work with the FBI agent to polish up," says Haas. "It was called HRT, a division of the FBI called the Hostage Rescue Team." While the movie eventually fell apart after the events of September 11, one particular detail of the spy's life stuck with him. "The spy told us that, ten years earlier, he was in charge of executive directives. Executive directives were when the president signed a document allowing someone to break the law of another country. He said, 'If people knew when I held this job, I would get killed.' And you don't know when you're getting bullsh**ted, but it sounded awesome to me."
Haas and Brandt's international thriller may not have panned out — they were later asked by Universal to pen 2 Fast 2 Furious, which the then-unproduced writers turned down before their agents demanded they take the movie, as it was to be a surefire hit ("Greatest advice we ever got.") — but it planted the seeds that eventually became The Right Hand. After years banging out scripts, Haas says writing a novel didn't involve much of a learning curve. "Because I write in similar genres for movies and books, the same kind of parallels apply. The muscles that are going to cause people to sit on the edge of their seat are the same to get them to flip pages when they're reading a book. I learned a lot from movies about pacing, getting in and out of scenes quicker."
Haas likens a screenplay to a blueprint from which a director can craft a visual scene, whereas prose is a playground for language. "You can repeat motifs, words [can] act as a percussive beat as [the audience] reads it," says Haas. "There is one scene in The Right Hand where all bets are off and he's going to free this guy from a car and he's got two guns in his hand. And I keep telling you how many bullets he's fired as he's going. It's like a musical score. The rhythm gets faster and faster as he takes out the Russian operatives.
Amidst his many other projects (including the long in development Wanted 2, which the author was happy to spill to us some details), Haas completed The Right Hand early this year, paving the way for the well-timed announcement that the thriller would be adapted as a movie by producer Scott Stuber and his old friends at Universal. "I think when it appears to the public and it happens so fast… I actually finished the book last February, and I let our agents know that the manuscript was done, if they wanted to start, at least, checking to see if a Hollywood studio was interested."
As The Right Hand is Haas' baby, he and Brandt made sure their contracts for bringing it to screen wouldn't end in a Frankenstein's Monster of the book, with contract stipulations that give them final say on if anyone can rewrite their drafts. That said, Haas is aware that he needs to be careful about working with his own material. "If I did it by myself I'd be way too precious," says Haas. "By having Michael, an incredible writer — and we have adapted other people's books — I know he'll be ruthless. Which is what it requires because it's a different medium. My next step is, I have to put the book aside and treat it like someone else wrote it and not get defensive. What's going to make the best movie."
Who could take on the Austin Clay role? Haas isn't there yet, as the writer imagines a particular actor when writing new characters for movies, TV, or his novels. "With Austin Clay, I pictured the embodiment of this guy," says Haas. Clay is a 30-year-old spy who is keen, witty, and deadly when necessary — but even when it comes time to translate him to screen, there is no telling how the character will evolve. "We wrote 3:10 to Yuma. As originally conceived, Charlie Prince, Russell Crowe's right-hand man, was a big, strapping, Old West gunslinger. And then they cast Ben Foster. We realized it was awesome because he was playing against type. We called him 'The Quiet Storm.'"
The Right Hand is an original story overflowing with mood — not the easiest sell for Hollywood. But thanks to a book trailer that Haas commissioned himself (see above), his spy novel was the subject of a bidding war for producers, not to mention everyone online who has crossed paths with the video. Recalling his own past doing pro bono advertising work (His pitch: "Let us go crazy and you'll get an account for nothing."), Haas reached out to friends at an effects company who set him up with Matt Egan, an eager young director who constructed a trailer that turned the essence of The Right Hand into a 47-second video. "I knew that they couldn't shoot footage from the book, but the trailer should embody the spirit of the book. And so, Matt came back and had some visual storyboards and I can't believe they did it all. It got a lot of people's attention in Hollywood. People in Hollywood are looking for something that catches their eye that is intellectual property. That trailer helped. It's why comic books have done so well over the last ten years." Haas can't explain every element in his book trailer, but he loves it. "I thought the Medusa thing was so weird."
Haas is looking forward to his next film projects, The Right Hand adaptation included, but he still has plenty of ideas for future installments of his book series. "I don't want to give away the ending, but it's written in such a way that, hopefully, we'll see this character again," says Haas. The author even hints that the Austin Clay missions may lie in a larger universe that encompasses his previous efforts. "One of the things I've admired about [Stephen King] is, he'll interlock stories," he explains. I wrote three books about a hitman named Columbus ... and there's certainly a chance that the way Dark Men, the last Columbus book, ends, and the way The Right Hand ends, that we might see these two meet."
The Right Hand is out now in hardcover and e-book versions. You can read more of Haas work at his brilliant short fiction website, Popcorn Fiction.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Mulholland Books]
'Taken 2' Writer Talks Sequelizing, Says Success Means 'Taken 3' Is On — EXCLUSIVE
Wes Anderson on the Young Adult Fiction Books that Inspired 'Moonrise Kingdom'
'Meryl Streep Movie Club' Author Weighs in on the Actress' Best Movies
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
Follow Thomas Leupp on Twitter.
Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter.