The Never List is one of the least inspired films to ever tackle the coming-of-age subgenre. Spawning from an unoriginal script by Ariadne Shaffer, director Michelle Mower offers nothing but unnecessarily crude humor and poorly realized characters. Nothing comes across as exceptional in the slightest. The story has numerous plot developments that clash with each other, creating an experience that can only be described as hilariously misguided.
We follow Eva Jefferies (Fivel Stewart) after her best friend, Liz (Brenna D’Amico) dies in a car accident. Before the tragedy, the two of them put together a list of activities they’d say they’d never do. For frustratingly vague reasons, Eva decides to complete the “never list,” no matter the risk.
This list sharply contradicts her reputation as a straight-A student who’s deeply involved in school event planning and SGA. Still, Eva’s determination to complete the list blocks out any previous aspirations rooted in academia. Her journey to complete it forces her into situations that whittle away her reputation, eventually turning her into an entirely different person.
“…after her best friend dies…Eva decides to complete the ‘never list,’ no matter the risk.”
The biggest problem is that Eva’s character is an oddity in and of herself. The rebellious nature seen in her comes out of nowhere, and the lengths she goes to complete the list cause some serious harm outside of her own embarrassment and lowered grades. Her character just flips on a switch from caring about her future to throwing everything away. It comes across as unnatural since there’s no actual setup to the dramatic shift in her character.
Similarly, many of the other characters have little to no development whatsoever. Liz gets nothing virtually when it comes to personality, making her death feel empty and hollow. Eva’s other friend, Taylor, has even less, only being there to accentuate and reaffirm Eva’s choices. Finally, there’s Joey. He’s the love interest and has a dark past which keeps many other characters from trusting him completely.
All of this is worsened by the music that plays through the majority of The Never List. Right from the opening credits, it’s clear to see that the soundtrack will be an ever-present aspect that’ll inappropriately set the stage for numerous scenes that could’ve easily worked without its overbearing nature. Outside of the soundtrack, the rest of the presentation does little to elevate the story. The only thing that comes close to giving this film an identity all its own are the animated scenes. The only reason they do work is that they break up the stale nature of how almost every single shot is framed. Mower has mounted one of the least inspired-looking films in a very long time.
The Never List is the type of film that offers very little in terms of substance. Any of the potential drawn up by the premise is drowned out by how weak the execution winds up being. Strong direction and a clear message or theme are key in bringing an idea to life. Due to a poor screenplay and tepid direction, The Never List sadly fails in this and most other ways.
"…the animated scenes...work..."