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Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I figure if a chick-flick doesn't have me wanting to tear my own face off after 15-20 minutes, it's not so bad. And as dull and sometimes irritating as NEVER (2014) can be, it isn't totally horrible. From me, that's a pretty good recommendation for a chick-flick--"not totally horrible."
Aside from that, though, this boy-meets-girl-meets-other-girl yarn is bland by any standards. It starts out in the usual murky, wobbly-camerawork style of the "modern" low-budget indy pic with a very tearful phone breakup between Nikki (Robin Williams' daughter Zelda Williams, GIRL IN THE BOX, HOUSE OF D) and her girlfriend. This leaves Nikki vulnerable and depressed for the rest of the movie, which is just perfect for this kind of movie.
Enter a chipper young fellow with the irritatingly cute name of Denim (Zachary Booth, THE BEAVER) who works as a T-shirt designer and is on the lookout for a significant other. Trouble is, he meets the intriguingly offbeat Nikki, who is an aspiring singer-songwriter performing her own songs in a club, at the same time that he's also becoming slightly infatuated with perky co-worker Meghan (Nicole Gale Anderson, "Beauty and the Beast", "Ravenswood", REDLINE), a more conventional and somewhat quacky Miss Perfect type who's also perpetually chipper.
Denim and Nikki meet-cute in a kitchen during one of those awful booming-bass house parties and then decide to platonically date-cute for awhile. Their growing attachment to each other is so gradual and uneventful that the montage of their first day out together tends to drag, as do most of their scenes together. This is partly because most of the interactions between characters in NEVER are like what you might hear if you were keeping people under surveillance and waiting patiently for them to say something interesting.
In one brief vignette, a reflective Denim walks around town and stops at a bicycle store to look at a bicycle. For a brief, exciting moment, we think that he might actually buy it. But it's just a false alarm.
In another scene, Denim and Nikki are sitting on the grass at the park having a nice moment, when suddenly Denim's phone rings. He gets up to take the call, walking out of hearing range from Nikki so he can talk furtively with Meghan. Is this normal now? Have people actually become this horrible?
Later Nikki runs into her old girlfriend and has a painful reunion with her in a diner that's interrupted when the girlfriend's phone buzzes and she starts texting someone while Nikki sits there like a lump. This is just as annoying in a movie as it is in real life.
Nikki confides in Denim about her musical aspirations and he helps her get another nightclub gig during which she's totally ignored by the boorish patrons. And in another scene that's painfully awkward, their attempt at having sex turns into a tearful mess.
All of this would be better, of course, if it were leading up to something. But the ending just sort of peters out, as though the story couldn't muster the energy to resolve itself in an interesting way.
While not a great actor, Zachary Booth is ideal for convincingly playing a wimpy metrosexual like Denim. Zelda Williams' Nikki is so anti-cute in her deliberate "me so plain" kind of way that I became rather fond of her after awhile. Nicole Gale Anderson as Meghan is...well, chipper.
Placed together in this tepid tale, the three characters don't exactly generate a firestorm of drama. But this is writer/director Brett Allen Smith's feature debut, so hopefully he has nowhere to go from here but up.
NEVER is the kind of movie my sisters used to bring home from the video store and make me watch with them because in those days I was the only one who knew how to run my VCR. In fact, these were the only times I actually regretted having one. But if you love chick-flicks so much that you derive some mysterious sustenance from even the lesser ones which I don't understand, you may want to check this one out.
Format: 1:85 Flat (35mm)
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Drama/ Romance