NEVER AGAIN

R
Reviews

An unlikely Upper West Side romance forms between Grace (Jill Clayburgh), a lonely divorce, and Christopher (Jeffrey Tambor), a jazz-playing exterminator, when they meet in, of all places, a gay bar. She is super-wary, having vowed to never fall in love again. He is somewhat shell-shocked by his recent inability to sexually perform with all the younger women he's been dating.

Writer-director Eric Schaeffer has crafted a winsomely appealing love story for--surprise!--the over-50 set. If nothing else, Never Again is a welcome relief from all the college students and 20-something professionals moviegoers are supposed to be enraptured by. And it's often very funny to boot, if sometimes verging on the obviously cute-sy. All the characters are marked by an authentic, well-worn Manhattan savvy, which constitutes a great part of their charm. Tambor, in particular, with his wonderful comic timing, is the gem of the film: His dry, wry presence is instantly ingratiating and makes Christopher the perfect Teddy Bear kind of a working stiff who's often his own worst enemy. His questioning of his own sexuality is what leads him to that gay bar in the first place, and Tambor's attempts to cruise are the film's comic highlight. (Earlier, he tried it with a "chick with a dick," unsuccessfully.) Clayburgh retains her harried, slightly worn-out appeal and even carries off one of Schaeffer's wackier notions. (When Christopher and his overbearing mother--the hysterically mordant Dolores McDougal--unexpectedly come to call, experimenting Grace answers the door wearing a huge black dildo.) Happily, Schaeffer has also populated his film with a raft of agreeable cronies for the central couple: Sandy Duncan, Caroline Aaron, and a drolly deadpan Bill Duke.

--David Noh