The first line of dialogue in Fisher Stevens’ would-be dark comedy “Just a Kiss,” spoken by a fellow named Dag (Ron Eldard) who’s about to get into bed with his best friend’s current squeeze, is “This is going to be a terrible mistake–one of those you can never take back.” It turns out to be a prophetic statement–both regarding the characters’ act of intimacy and in terms of the movie per se. This is a dismally unfunny clunker that has the dubious distinction of being chaotically structured, wretchedly unfunny and appallingly tasteless, all at once. At another point, one character remarks to another, “You don’t look like you’re having a good time,” but in an honest world those words would be directed toward the audience instead.

The picture is a purportedly funny treatment of the results of infidelity centering on three couples. There’s Dag, a television commercial director, and Halley (Kyra Sedgwick), his live-in girlfriend whose profession is unclear; Dag’s buddy Peter (Patrick Breen), a nervous actor who’s appeared in best friend Dag’s most famous commercial (as an eagle, no less), currently involved with a flaky (and as it turns out) suicidal ballet dancer named Rebecca (Marley Shelton); and Andre (Taye Diggs), a smooth-talking cellist who’s married to free-spirited Colleen (Sarita Choudhury) and also involved in an affair with Rebecca. There’s also a seventh person–a brash, and ultimately dangerous, bowling alley waitress, Paula (Marisa Tomei), who’s unaccountably obsessed with the sheepish Peter and for some reason takes malicious aim at some of the others (Dag and Rebecca in particular). The catalyst of the plot is the revelation that Dag once enjoyed a night with Rebecca–a disclosure that sends Halley to Rebecca’s apartment, where she takes up with Andre, and Peter for some reason to the airport, where he runs into Colleen (whom he doesn’t know) and flies to LA with her (bringing down the plane on landing, in a twist that’s supposed to be funny but is actually horribly nasty, when he refuses to turn off his cell phone). Meanwhile Paula encounters Dag and apparently engages him in an S&M encounter; she then, it seems, assaults him, and later encourages Rebecca to kill herself. (By the end of the picture there are three separate funeral scenes.) One says that all this “apparently” happens, however, because “Just a Kiss” frequently reverses course, treating “events” that the audience has just witnessed as not having happened at all. It also toys with chronology, first showing us the results of actions and much later showing their causes; and from time to time, especially at the beginning, it uses rotomation to turn filmed live-action moments into animated ones like the whole of “Waking Life.” The result is a narrative and visual mess, which ultimately emerges as a mean-spirited, singularly unamusing “what if?” tale about the disaster that unfaithful behavior can wreak. But if the story is designed as a kind of dream, it’s certainly a bad one.

The performers work overtime in a failed effort to inject some charm into characters who are almost unfailingly obnoxious. Of the guys Eldard evinces a certain goofy charm, but his look of dazed amazement grows tiresome; Diggs is smoothly attractive. Among the girls Sedgwick does an energetic sad-sack routine and Shelton is convincingly spaced-out, but Tomei and Choudhury come on very shrill. The weakest link, however, is Breen, who adapted the script from his own play. The fellow seems to think himself a kind of Woody Allen figure, but he’s more like a bargain-basement version of Douglas McGrath. His eagle bit, a weak takeoff on the opening of “Patton,” isn’t remotely convincing as a national commercial at all, let alone one that might develop a cult following. The pointless rotomation is more an irritant than a help, and in his directorial debut actor Stevens proves only that he would be well advised to stay in front of the camera.

One supporting performer proves admirable, though. That’s Zoe Caldwell, who’s a perfect image of snobbishness and cynicism as Rebecca’s acid-tongued, self-centered mother, a grande dame of the ballet world. She treats everyone and everything around her with the contempt most viewers will feel toward the movie itself, and so is an excellent role model for those seduced into seeing it. As for “Just a Kiss,” do yourself a favor and just kiss it off.