Never Again

Rating:

A Refreshing Change of Pace

Main Cast: Jeffrey Tambor, Jill Clayburgh, Caroline Aaron, Sandy Duncan

Director: Eric Schaeffer

Yesterday, when my husband and I headed out to see a movie, we had never heard of Never Again. In the mood for an entertaining movie experience, we found nothing of interest at our local theater. Seeing two thumbs up in an advertisement for Never Again we headed out to see what it was about. The theater where we ended up is one (the only one in the general area) that shows off-beat, low-budget films. When we sat down in the theater, we noticed that we were the youngest in the crowd. Hardly spring chickens ourselves, we wondered what this said about this film, but Never Again proved to be a romantic comedy that we, and the rest of the senior crowd, enjoyed.

Romantic comedies – they’re not the stuff that changes the world. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, fate or stupidity pull boy and girl apart, and a requisite happy ending. The world can certainly survive without another romantic comedy. People, however, seem to enjoy them; romantic comedies make people feel good. Never Again will not be nominated for any prestigious awards, but it did give us a chance to laugh and feel good, and it was a refreshing change from the average romantic comedy.

It was nice to see a love story about two mature adults, rather than two beautiful twenty-somethings. Grace (played by Jill Clayburgh) is a 54 year old empty-nester. The film opens with Grace saying goodbye to her daughter as she is about to begin her freshman year in college. Returning home to her empty New York apartment, Grace is faced with living alone for the first time in decades. Encouraged by her friends Natasha (played by Sandy Duncan) and Elaine (Caroline Aaron), Grace decides to re-enter the wonderful world of dating.

Christopher (played by Jeffrey Tambor) is a 54 year old exterminator and jazz musician. After decades of shallow relationships with younger women, an unfulfilled sexual encounter with a jazz-loving fan, and a disturbing dream, Christopher convinces himself that he must be gay, and sets off to learn the signals and rules of gay dating. He swears off love, saying “never again” and seeks an uncomplicated, but sexually fulfilling relationship with the man of his dreams.

After her first disappointing date, Grace finds herself commiserating with Natasha and Elaine at a local gay bar. This is where she meets Christopher. Discovering that they are both heterosexual, and that both have sworn off love and commitment, these two begin an uncomplicated, no strings attached, sexual romp. Oh the rapture of it all! At 54, these two know what they want, and they don’t want to play games – at least not mind games. It’s all about hot and wild sex! It’s all about fun, and it’s really quite funny.

Just one problem; Christopher and Grace fall in love. Predictably, Christopher pulls away from the relationship breaking Grace’s heart. Not to worry, this is a romantic comedy, and you won’t be deprived of a happy ending. The tension in the relationship, however, is where the film’s flaws become apparent. We don’t really feel Christopher’s ambivalence. Rather, it seems that the problems in the relationship are there to fill a required plot element. Grace and Christopher go through the motions so that they can discover that they don’t want to be alone, and can live together happily ever after.

The comedy in Never Again is quite bold. The character development leaves a bit to be desired, and the circumstance that finally bring Grace and Christopher back together borders on the absurd. In the end, Grace is able to play “the knight in shining armor” to Christopher’s “damsel in distress”, and the film ends with a happy reunion that lets the viewer leave the auditorium smiling.

I do recommend this film to those seeking a light hearted laugh. Never Again, however, is not for anyone who is offended by off-color language or frank discussions of sex and sexual themes. This is not a film that most viewers will want to see with their children, and certainly not one that most will want to see with their parents. I can tell you, however, that all the little grey-haired grandmas and grandpas in the theater with us, seemed to enjoy this film even more than we. Never Again is a fun reminder that sex in the movies is not just for youngsters. 3 stars.

–D. Igo

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