A scene from 'Just One Time'
Courtesy Photo
** stars 92 minutes | Unrated
Opened: Friday, November 10, 2000 (SF)
Directed by Lane Janger

Starring Lane Janger, Joelle Carter, Guillermo Diaz, Jennifer Esposito, Vincent Laresca, Domenick Lombardozzi & David Lee Russek


Forget it. Chances are whatever it next to it on the video store shelf is better.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 05.29.2001


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Self-centered schmuck pressures fiancée for a three-way in sexist, debasing 'romantic' comedy

By Rob Blackwelder

Stop me if you've heard this one before: "Just One Time" is a "romantic comedy" about a guy who acts like a selfish idiot through the whole movie, then makes an insincere 30-second apology just before the credits roll. The girl takes him back, no questions asked, and that's the happy ending.

Is anybody else sick of these movies that insult women by implying that they shouldn't look for a man who treats them right, but just settle for one who apologizes when he treats them badly?

The twist in "Just One Time" that's supposed to make it unique is the way in which the guy (co-writer/director Lane Janger) acts like an idiot -- he pressures his fiancée (Joelle Carter) to have a threesome with another woman when she's clearly not at all interested.

Question: Why would she be marrying this selfish schmuck in the first place?

Janger thinks he's very clever, having the girl turn the tables on the guy, saying she'll do it with another woman if he'll do it with another man -- a virgin gay neighbor (Guillermo Diaz). She's yanking his chain, but Anthony (Janger) isn't bright enough to realize that. Pre-marital strife ensues and when Amy (Carter) begins to buddy up to the lesbian across the street (Jennifer Esposito), Anthony gets paranoid, insecure and suspicious.

Again, please: Why would Amy want to marry this schmuck?

Maybe it's because she's lonely. The way Janger (as writer and director) depicts her, Amy is a friendless homebody. While Anthony goes out night after night to get plowed with his buddies, perfectly pretty and amiable Amy sits home, pouring over law books (apparently she's a law clerk or a lawyer -- it's not clear) and getting moody. Oh, those crazy chicks. Will we ever understand them?

Janger adapted "Just One Time" from a short he screened at Sundance last year, and the stretch marks show. The pace is languishing and tedious. But the central problem with the film is that Amy is the only character to root for -- and only because you're hoping she'll pack a suitcase and get away from that bozo she's about to marry.

Carter (who played John Cusack's movie critic ex-girlfriend in "High Fidelity") endears Amy to the audience and finds many nuances in her personality, but none that shed light on why she has so little self-esteem as to think she can't do a whole lot better than Anthony.

Janger honestly doesn't seem to realize what a loser Anthony is -- not because he has a fantasy about having sex with his girlfriend and another woman (hell, every guy I know has that fantasy!), but because 1) he's self-centered to the last, 2) he's the kind of half-wit who thinks homosexuality is contagious, 3) he's in a rush to act out this fantasy before his Catholic wedding because somehow he thinks doing it afterwards would be a (bigger) sin.

A story like "Just One Time" is inevitable -- and welcome -- in an age of advanced sexual freedom and experimentation. But someone with more respect for women should take another whack at it.

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