Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)

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Released 4-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Trailer-High Crimes; Waking Life; Dinner Rush; 24 Hour Party People
Deleted Scenes-4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 92:48 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Heather Juergensen
Jennifer Westfeldt
Tovah Feldshuh
Esther Wurmfeld
Scott Cohen
Jackie Hoffman
Case ?
RPI ? Music Marcelo Zarvos

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Lets get one thing out of the way right at the start - if you are looking for girl vs. girl action then you are going to be very disappointed. Whilst there are some intimate moments, that is as far as we go on-screen in this film. What you do get is a rather clever romantic comedy with a couple of unusual twists.

    The comedy of Kissing Jessica Stein is not the laugh-out-loud kind, but there are some classic scenes in this film. There are also some scenes that show Jewish family life and a glimpse of the Jewish rituals surrounding meals, not something that I had seen in a film before. There is even a short segment inside the synagogue during a service.

    The story is built around a number of single people and the life that they lead, concentrating on relationships and the dating game. The central two characters are two women; Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Helen Cooper (Heather Juergensen). Jessica is as about as strung up and neurotic as they come. Nothing is good enough, particularly the men that she has been dating. Helen is the complete opposite and is a true free spirit who is out to experience life to its fullest.

    There are a wonderful tapestry of complex characters that make up the skein of this film. Jessica's boss is a writer with writer's block who is working as an editor and hating it. Jessica's family, in particular her mother, are putting pressure on her to get married and her grandmother is another great character. Helen's friends include two very gay men and the interaction with these as Helen decides to 'cross over' are some of the funniest in the movie. I found myself really enjoying meeting the wide range of people in this film and having a laugh along with them.

    Without giving too much away, all the characters, and in particular the two main characters, get bumped out of their normal little boxes and in the process learn a little about others and a lot about themselves.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at 1.85:1, which would appear to be the original aspect ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is pretty sharp for a single layered disc, although it would appear that some high frequency filtering has been applied. A lot of this story occurs inside various places - rarely do we go outside and only once in the middle of the day. The interiors are not brightly lit but have areas of light and shadow. I think this is most probably intentional to promote a particular feel to the film. Thankfully, the shadow detail is fairly good. There is some background noise triggered by the low level grain that is present.

    The colours are good but again muted by the lighting in many scenes.

    There are no obvious MPEG artefacts but there is a depressing amount of edge enhancement. Most scenes contain examples, such as at 8:57 along the girl's whole left side. Film artefacts are present but are small and relatively unobtrusive, consisting mainly of little black flecks.

    There are English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which are easy to read and accurate.

    This is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is a single English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on this disc. Overall, this is a very front-heavy soundtrack.

    The dialogue quality is very good and there are no problems with audio sync.

    The music is an interesting mix of styles and bobs along and adds the right feel to many of the scenes.

    Other than the music, there is little activity in the surrounds, nor did the subwoofer have much to do other than support the music, some of which contains some quite deep bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The disc starts out with 7:23 worth of trailers for High Crimes, Waking Life, Dinner Rush and 24 Hour Party People which can be bypassed with the menu button (chapter skip forward is locked out).


    A simple static menu with no audio presented at 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Deleted Scenes (12:57)

    At one stage in the film there is a montage of scenes where we see just how bad the dating game can be for Jessica. She sees a series of men that really give the gender a bad name. The deleted scenes are an expansion on this with each chap getting even longer to prove that he is from the shallow end of the gene pool. Presented at 1.33:1 with the content letterboxed to 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    As this is the rental version of this disc, the omissions are unfortunate but this may (or may not) be corrected when we see the retail release.


    It is really the complex characters that make Kissing Jessica Stein, and the situational comedy based around the dating scenes is very good. The comedy around the lesbian relationship is particularly funny in parts. The pairing of someone totally neurotic with a free spirit has been done before but this is a particularly clever version of this theme.

    The video is good.

    The audio is also all right.

    The extra is painful to watch if you are a guy.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, March 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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