Owen Gleiberman
August 02, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Never Again

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
97 minutes
Limited Release Date
07/12/02
performer
Jill Clayburgh, Jeffrey Tambor, Bill Duke, Sandy Duncan, Michael McKean
director
Eric Schaeffer
distributor
Universal Focus
author
Eric Schaeffer
genre
Romance, Comedy

We gave it a D-

Just call Never Again ”My Big Fat Geek Relationship.” How do we know that Christopher (Jeffrey Tambor), a sad-sack exterminator in New York City who dumps any woman the moment she falls for him, is really a deep and caring human being? Because he moonlights as a jazz musician ”in the Village,” tickling the ivories to crowds of adoring white people. How do we know that he and Grace (Jill Clayburgh), a divorcée plunged into the blues after her daughter leaves for college, are ideally matched misfits? Because these two 54-year-old lonely hearts meet at…a seedy gay disco! The gruesome, sub-sitcom contrivances just pile up from there in Eric Schaeffer’s howler of a romantic comedy, which presents itself as a valentine to Clayburgh even as it keeps dreaming up fresh ways to humiliate her.

Grace commiserates with her two best friends in scenes coy enough to make the First Wives Club scurry for cover; she visits a sex shop and parades around her apartment wearing a leather mask and strap-on; she throws a teary public tantrum in which she declares, in effect, ”I am Unmarried Woman, hear me roar!” Clayburgh and Tambor are charming performers; neither of them deserves Eric Schaeffer.

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