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"Never Again"

Directed by Eric Schaeffer.
Written by Eric Schaeffer. 
Starring Jill Clayburgh and Jeffrey Tambor.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  7/30/02 


It is about time that veteran character actor Jeffrey Tambor got a real starring role, and here in the adult romantic comedy “Never Again”, he has the best role of his career.

In the film, Tambor plays a 54-year-old musician named Christopher, who has gone through multiple quick relationships with younger women and has found no success.  After going through a brief phase where he questions his sexuality, he meets Grace (Jill Clayburgh), another 54-year-old that hasn’t been in a relationship in seven years and is looking to break the rut.  After some hilarious early dating hijinks as they get to know each other, they predictably fall in love against their shared motto:  to never fall in love again.

The plot is basically like the sun rising in the morning—there couldn’t be anything more predictable.  What isn’t predictable is how raunchy these folks’ language is towards their sexual behavior—when near-retirees talk about oral sex, strap-ons and climaxes, it sometimes is like “The Golden Girls” mixed with the Playboy Channel.  Tambor and Clayburgh handle it effortlessly, and both have great scenes in which they get to play writer/director Eric Schaeffer’s funny dialogue out.  Early in the film, as Christopher is talking to his best/only friend Earl (Bill Duke, most famously in “Predator”), the conversation they have about Christopher’s sexual problems and preferences is so wrong that I can’t print a single word of it here.  And, in a riotous scene with Grace’s two best friends (Caroline Aaron and Sandy Duncan) at a nail salon, Grace talks about her first sexual encounter with Christopher and she describes almost every single one customer in the salon during the scene says, she is glad that Grace is “not my mom!!”  Just imagining your mom talking like this should make you raise an eyebrow, and if you see the movie you’ll know what I mean.

The acting is strong, and it is fresh to see a romantic film about leads that are so much older than the teens and 20-somethings that normally dominate romance films these days; and, with a couple of sex scenes to boot, this isn’t your everyday motion picture.  The frankness of the dialogue is the film’s number one selling point; most of the time, Hollywood sells romance with leads this old as long walks, short kisses and big hugs.  Why can’t it just admit to us that in real life, sex doesn’t end for people after 45, unless you are in an action film, in which case you can have Herculean sexual bouts at age 60 if you are Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood or...Patrick Stewart?  I really bought the relationship in “Never Again” as real life, with real people and real issues.

Sure, the film has problems—which basically can be summed up as the last 20 minutes.  The ending to “Never Again” is actually kind of bad, sick in its tradition as the first 100 minutes of the film was reasonably original.  And, although large crowds cheer Christopher in his East Village bar piano gig, the music is really bad!  But, this is really a film that both young adults and older adults can enjoy for many reasons, and in terms of romantic films, there aren’t many like this out there.

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09