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By Merle Bertrand | July 9, 2001

It might seem like a pretty cool deal at first blush. By day, Christopher (Jeffrey Tambor) is merely a divorced exterminator. By night, however, he’s a cool jazz musician, playing keyboards with his longtime friend Earl (Bill Duke) and — here’s the cool part — going home with a series of infatuated college girls. When, on one such occasion, the, er, flag doesn’t rise up the ol’ flagpole, he begins to have doubts about his sexual orientation. An erotic dream in which he’s having sex with that same girl…only to have her turn into a man during the act only exacerbates those fears.
Fellow lonely divorcee Grace (Jill Clayburgh), meanwhile, is unsuccessfully dealing with empty nest syndrome after sending her daughter off to college. Venturing forth into the modern day world of internet dating, she crashes and burns on her first blind date in years.
Distraught and commiserating with her girlfriends at a nearby gay bar, she bumps into Christopher, himself fleeing a traumatic experience with a decidedly unsexy transsexual (a hilarious Michæl McKean). As these things go, at least in the movies if not necessarily in real life, there’s an immediate and unmistakable spark.
Yet, they’ve both been down this road before, vowing “never again” to allow themselves to fall in love and open themselves up to the potential to get hurt. Falling in love, of course, is precisely what these two want to do more than anything else in the world, even if they’re the last ones realize it.
The romantic comedy genre has been pretty much tapped out when it comes to films about young adults. The main thing setting this hysterical yet touching film apart from others in the genre is that “Never Again” is a film about two fifty-something adults finding love in, if not exactly the wrong places, then certainly the most unlikely of places.
Director Eric Schæffer’s smart and sassy script provides a solid jumping off point for this film. Yet, it’s the unbelievable performances by veterans Tambor and Clayburgh that bring these two unlikely lovers to life. Long cast in supporting roles, the unusually charismatic Tambor brings a wholly unexpected believability to his turn as a leading man.
Clayburgh, for her part, proves with a certain side-splitting sex toy scene that she’s not afraid to get down and dirty for a laugh. This is all the more surprising given the air of grace and dignity she consistently brings to other roles. Together, this most unlikely of romantic couples takes us on the roller coaster ride of their wildly gyrating relationship.
By turns touching, raucously amusing, uncomfortable, and, yes, even sexy, “Never Again” is a welcome and heartwarming addition to the romantic comedy genre; a pleasant surprise of a film that delivers so much more than its description leads one to expect.

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