Eric Schaeffer’s Never Again (USA, opens July 12) is a change of pace: Instead of his usual misogynistic trifle about a man frightened by the woman who yearns to sleep with him, he’s directed a movie about two people who actually want to sleep with each other. And not young, attractive people—middle-aged, despairing, lonely people. Has the perennially self-absorbed Schaeffer (who has mercifully not cast himself this time) finally matured?
Yes, but not enough. Schaeffer’s humor is still predicated on implausible situations. In Never Again, 54-year-old divorcée Grace (Jill Clayburgh) is goaded by her friends into going on a date with a man she met online—who turns out to be a midget (Peter Dinklage). Later, Grace dances around her apartment wearing a dildo, just in time for her new, also divorced boyfriend, Christopher (Jeffrey Tambor), to bring Mom (Suzanne Shepherd) over for lunch. The equally boneheaded Christopher heads to work without his pants on and, after having a homoerotic dream, decides he’s really gay.
Never Again would be more believable if its characters ever talked about topics other than sex. After spending a night with Christopher, Grace goes to the beauty parlor with her circle of friends and describes the naughty romp in detail while they squeal with delight. Christopher is more restrained, although he does chat with his buddy Earl (Bill Duke) about the possibility of having sex with a hermaphrodite. (“I was thinking of starting off with a chick with a dick as a segue,” he says.) A comedic semi-rehash of An Unmarried Woman (1978) with older leads, Never Again sports a good-hearted story but doesn’t know how to tell it. As filler, it includes the usual blabber about how the characters are afraid of commitment and how men are inherently pigs. Unable to find a suitably dramatic climax, it co-opts one from Love Affair (1939) and An Affair to Remember (1957).