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Kisses & Caroms (August 19/06)

It's obvious almost immediately that Kisses & Caroms likely wouldn't even exist were it not for Clerks, Kevin Smith's seminal 1994 comedy, as the two films possess many of the same attributes (ie an ultra low-rent sensibility, amateurish performances, etc). While Kisses & Caroms director and cowriter Vince Rocca apes Smith's emphasis on bawdy humor and relationship-centric dialogue, the filmmaker is never quite able to transform any of these characters into figures worth rooting for (a problem that's exacerbated by the distinct lack of laughs within the screenplay).

Set almost entirely within the confines of a billiard shop, the movie follows Zack (Drew Wicks) as he attempts to sort out his feelings for fellow employee Jennifer (Nikki Stanzione). Though she's clearly willing to do anything to save their relationship - the couple invited another woman into their bed the previous night - Zack nevertheless believes that he needs the space and freedom to date other people to ensure that they're right for each other.

Featuring an assortment of wacky supporting characters, Kisses & Caroms generally eschews plot in favor of long, distinctly offbeat conversations - the majority of which are, at the very least, kind of interesting. Rocca and cowriter Michael Hutchinson explore the ins and outs of contemporary relationships, ensuring that the movie will forever be compared to Smith's '94 classic (to be fair, Rocca does acknowledge this with a series of small nods - including a character named Silent Bobette).

The problem, then, is that the majority of this stuff just isn't funny - something that's due in no small part to the almost uniformly ineffectual performances. With the exception of Wicks and Stanzione - both of whom come off as surprisingly charismatic - Rocca has peppered his cast with actors that seem as though they'd be more at home on late-night infomercials. That being said, such concerns will undoubtedly be easy enough to overlook for viewers that are attuned to Rocca and Hutchinson's distinctly juvenile sense of humor (ie a man has to fish his wedding ring out of a toilet that's full of excrement).

Kisses & Caroms, as a debut effort, certainly isn't even as remotely terrible as it could've been - though there's simply no denying that Rocca probably would have fared better had he carved out his own niche and not been so eager to follow in the footsteps of Smith.

out of

© David Nusair