Never Again

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Never Again

Occasionally, the shortage of movies about middle-aged characters draws complaints, but if such films must look like Never Again, almost anyone would be better off with the nearest Josh Hartnett movie. Writer-director Eric Schaeffer once made a film about obsessive romance called Fall, which co-starred Schaeffer, model Amanda De Cadenet, and Schaeffer's penis. Never Again, a comedy of sorts, explores only slightly less repellent territory. Jill Clayburgh stars as a divorcée reeling from the onset of empty-nest syndrome after sending her daughter to college. Egged on by shrill, martini-swilling friends (including Sandy Duncan), Clayburgh goes on a date with a man she meets in an Internet chat room, who turns out to be a dwarf. Meanwhile, exterminator and jazz pianist Jeffrey Tambor suffers a different sort of crisis when he finds himself unable to get it up for the gorgeous 25-year-old women who throw themselves at him with startling frequency. Concerned he might be gay, Tambor, against the advice of best friend Bill Duke, decides to explore his options, seeking out a transsexual as "a segue." His first attempt, with a grotesque Michael McKean, doesn't go so well, so he tries again, mistaking Clayburgh for a transsexual at a gay bar. She's strangely unflummoxed by the mistake, and they start to re-explore their heterosexuality with no strings attached, their encounters graphically recounted when not actually shown. In time, the relationship turns from hot and sticky to saccharine sweet. Clayburgh and Tambor demonstrate genuine chemistry, but the film keeps diluting it with awful attempts at comedy and worse attempts at drama. (Eventually, everyone starts spending a lot of time in the hospital.) The romance may work out better than either character expects, but everything else about Never Again remains ill-starred.