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Kiss Me Goodbye
So fluffy and innocuous that it threatens to float right off your television screen, Kiss Me Goodbye is a picture-perfect example of how three great performers can elevate even the slightest and most lightweight material imaginable. That's not to say that Kiss Me Goodbye is an awful little romantic comedy; it's just so darn insubstantial that it's tough to get really excited about it one way or the other.
Sally Field plays Kay Villano, a sweet-natured little widow who has decided to re-open her old house. This home was the site of her husband's accidental death only three years prior, but Kay is now engaged to a genial nebbish of a museum curator, so it's time to get her life back on track.
While getting the house ready for rehabitation, Kay discovers the ghost of her dead husband, back from beyond the grave and ready for a good deal of banter with his former wife. That Kay can see and hear Jolly's ghost, while nobody else can, is to be expected in this sort of comedy. But when Kay decides to tell everyone about her dead husband's rather chatty apparition, everyone (logically) assumes she's nuts. And pity poor Rupert, a good-hearted nerdly fellow who's now engaged to a woman in love with her dead husband.
Loose remake of Jorge Amado's novel Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and the Bruno Barreto movie of the same name, Kiss Me Goodbye is precisely the sort of fluffy and harmless rom-com (with an ethereal twist) that should delight mothers and grandmothers alike. The only real selling point to the serious movie freaks is the trio of lead actors: Sally Field is as charming as ever; James Caan is good rascally fun as the tap-dancer from beyond the grave; and Jeff Bridges anchors the flick with a performance that's actually somewhat better than the movie deserves. (OK, it's tough to buy Bridges as a museum geek, but the fact that the actor pulls it off with flying colors is a testament to the man's acting prowess.)
Were it not for these three performances tying the movie down, Kiss Me Goodbye would ultimately float away on a cloud of rom-com piffle. We've all seen the sort of schtick in which one person talks to a ghost, while the other characters just stand on in wonderment - but Bridges delivers a performance so grounded and believable that the movie actually gets better whenever he's onscreen. As the lovable scoundrel of a ghost named Jolly, Mr. Caan is required to do little beside smirk, arch the eyebrows, deliver some fairly flat dialogue. But because it's Jimmy Caan, you love the character almost immediately. And few actresses have a grasp for light comedy like Sally Field, so while Kiss Me Goodbye does not rank among her best efforts, she elevates the material with effortless pluck and zeal.
Kiss Me Goodbye is not as much a "laugh out loud" comedy as it is a comfortable little diversion. The highlight sequence, which takes place in the lobby of a bed and breakfast, almost earns the movie an extra star -- but the goofball finale (which includes a dog believed to contain Jolly's spirit) knocks the final product right back down to "meh, not bad." Obviously if you're a fan of the three lead actors (as I certainly am), then Kiss Me Goodbye is certainly worthy of a weeknight rental ... but don't expect a flick you'll be adding to your own collection any time soon.
Video: Another Fox flipper, which means you get the Widescreen Anamorphic (1.85:1) on one side and the Full Frame (1.33:1) on the other. (I won't even venture to say what Fox is implying by placing the FF transfer on Side A; I'm just relieved the studio even bothers to release their catalog titles in original aspect ratio.) Ah, but there's bad news, too: The Widescreen transfer is pretty darn slack. It's fuzzy and soft and fairly unimpressive throughout. Sure, this is better than an old VHS transfer (if only because it's in Widescreen), but the picture quality is really quite weak.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English as well as mono tracks in English, Spanish, and French. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
Extras: The original theatrical trailer.
Kiss Me Goodbye is one of those "rom-com with a ghost" confections that's not so much "really good" as it is "not really bad." The plot is conventional and the dialogue uninspired, but the trio of sterling lead actors manage to grip the flick by its hair and yank it right into the realm of uneventful watchability. Those who remember the movie with some fondness will be happy to finally add it to their collection, although some of those folks might also be disappointed by the DVD's relatively unimpressive visual presentation.