[Screen It]


(1998) (Lauren Holly, Edward Burns) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate None *Moderate None None
Mild None None None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild Moderate Mild Minor Minor

Drama: A woman must choose between her current boyfriend and the return of her former beau who promises to get her out of her steady, predictable life.
Claudia (LAUREN HOLLY) is an attractive, thirty-something waitress who lives in a small, coastal town where nothing ever changes. Her live-in boyfriend, Michael (JON BON JOVI), wants to get married and raise a family, but Claudia is uncertain of that for several reasons. One of those concerns her emotionally devastated mother (BLYTHE DANNER) who's still reeling over her husband's departure for a new life.

What also concerns Claudia is the reappearance of her former boyfriend, Charlie (EDWARD BURNS), who has returned seeking to win her back, despite having abruptly dumped her three years earlier. Claudia's sister, Kelly (CONNIE BRITTON), and friend, Teresa (JENNIFER ESPOSITO), try to give her support, but when Charlie begins to put the moves on her, she becomes confused about whom to choose. As Charlie slowly draw her back to him, Michael understandably begins to get jealous and from that point on, Claudia must decide what to do with her life.

If they're fans of someone in the cast, they might, but this film probably won't draw in many kids, especially preteens.
For language.
  • LAUREN HOLLY plays a woman who finds herself torn between her current boyfriend, and a former one who returns and complicates matters. Along the way, she hurts Michael, moderately drinks and we learn that she had an abortion years before the story starts.
  • EDWARD BURNS plays a guy who previously got Claudia pregnant and then hit the road moments after she had an abortion. He then returns years later and tries to win her back although she has a boyfriend.
  • JON BON JOVI plays a working stiff who drinks and smokes, but loves Claudia and will do anything for her.


    OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
    In 1995, writer/director Edward Burns wowed audiences and critics alike with his impressive debut film, "The Brothers McMullen." The next year he followed that with "She's The One," his second romantic comedy in which he also starred. With his third outing again in front of, and behind the camera, Burns delves this time into the world of serious, romantic drama.

    He has once again succeeded in making a decent film, but while competent, "No Looking Back" offers few surprises and remains even-keeled throughout its hour and a half runtime. Although the main character's final life-changing decision is never a forgone conclusion, there's never a doubt that once her old boyfriend reappears he'll stir things up in this sleepy, routine town. What then follows is the obligatory confusion, crying and some yelling that stems from the old "two's company, three's a crowd" rule.

    While the story itself is nothing particularly special, both Burn's direction and the performances he elicits from his cast are quite good. Burns perfectly captures a small coastal vacation town where the perpetual lack of change is accentuated by the dreary winter weather -- it even feels damp in the theater. This town is in need of some new blood, but it's so set in its ways that Charlie's appearance -- a native, but now a "stranger" -- doesn't elicit much of a reaction from anyone. Although Burns relies perhaps a bit too much on his soundtrack (featuring plenty of songs from Jersey native Bruce Springsteen) to create mood, the direction is aptly handled.

    Burns is also good in front of the camera. As in his previous films, he looks very comfortable in his role and easily exudes that "lifelong best friend" quality that makes him not only easy to watch, but also to accept in most any role he plays. Being the multifaceted talent that he is, it's also nice to see no signs of him being a prima dona. While he could have chosen to play the "good" guy in the film, he opted for the "villain," the guy with less than stellar scruples. Although his is certainly a less than likeable character, Burns makes him the most interesting in this movie and easily fits into the role.

    Rock singer turned actor Jon Bon Jovi ("Moonlight and Valentino") also proves he's a talent to be reckoned with as he also delivers a good performance. Playing the victim in this love triangle, Bon Jovi keeps his acting rather low-key, perfectly plays the part, and certainly doesn't suffer from looking like a rock star trying to be an actor like so many of his counterparts have done over the years.

    Lauren Holly ("A Smile Like Yours") also gives a good performance as the woman whose spirit for life is rekindled by her old boyfriend's reappearance. Her character is believably written -- the woman still drawn to the guy who hurt her -- and Holly plays the role just right. Claiming that she doesn't want to "wake up ten years from now and ask 'what if,'" her character taps into a thought all of us have had at one moment or another. After seeing repetitive footage of her always bringing in the trash cans day after day, the sight of her deciding not to one day is symbolic of her decision to make a proactive change. Although at first her Hollywood glamour good looks make one think "here's an actress just playing down into a small-town waitress part," Holly quickly dispels that notion and becomes believable.

    Despite the good performances, one only wishes there was a little more oomph to the story. While it's understood that the movie's intended to be a small, character-driven tale, its even-keeled approach nearly makes the film as boring as the town it portrays. Some of Burns' witty humor -- so abundant in his previous films -- could have been used to brighten things up and cut through the near melodramatic material.

    The film isn't bad by any means, it's just uneventful. If not for the decent acting from the cast, it would come off as a run-of-the-mill romantic drama that would be quickly overlooked by most audiences. Although they might happen anyway, and it will probably be forgotten rather quickly, it's still a competent picture. We give "No Looking Back" a 5.5 out of 10.

    Profanity gives this film its R rating and contains more than 20 "f" words and an assortment of others. A few sexual comments are made and a brief encounter is implied. There's a moderate amount of drinking and smoking (by most of the main characters), and Charlie has some bad attitudes as he tries to win back his former girlfriend although she's nearly engaged to someone else. Many of the other categories, however, have little or no major objectionable material.

  • Charlie, Michael and Claudia drink beer in several scenes (in bars, playing poker, etc...), and various other characters also drink beer.
  • Michael, Charlie, and a friend of theirs occasionally drink shots.
  • Charlie brings Claudia a beer to drink (he has the same) at noon in a laundromat.
  • Background characters drink in bars in several scenes.
  • None.
  • The fact that Claudia and Michael live together, but aren't married or engaged, might rub some viewers the wrong way.
  • Some viewers may see Claudia as having both for having had an abortion in the past, and we learn that Charlie hit the road right after she had that.
  • Charlie has both as he pursues Claudia despite the fact that she's nearly engaged and that he emotionally hurt her several years earlier. In one scene, he just lets himself into her and Michael's home and gets a beer from their fridge.
  • Charlie also sees everyone in town as having no drive and thinks that he's better than them.
  • Charlie tries to persuade a college freshman to go back to a motel room (after making out with her in his car), but she politely turns him down.
  • Claudia starts seeing Charlie (and may have slept with him) despite nearly being engaged to Michael.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Slut," "Chicks," "Pissed," "Bang" (sexual), "Skank," "Pain in the ass," "Scumbag," "Bastard," "Balls" (testicles), "Freakin'," "Retard," "Tough nuts," "Screwed up" and "Jerk off" (noun).
  • Charlie gives Michael "the finger" in a half playful/half-irritated manner.
  • Kelly playfully gives her mother "the finger."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 21 "f" words, 19 "s" words, 2 slang terms for male genitals ("p*cker," "d*ck), 8 asses (3 using "hole"), 8 hells, 3 S.O.B.'s, 3 damns, 2 craps, and 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh God," and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Oh my God," "Jesus, Mary & Joseph," and "God" as exclamations.
  • Michael comments that Charlie is "probably still trying to bang every skank he can get his hands on."
  • We see Claudia in her bra and see a little cleavage.
  • Looking at a sonogram, a woman comments (about the embryo), "He's got a little one," to which the mother replies, "Yeah, he takes after his father."
  • One of Claudia's friends asks her if she has "any rubbers" as she talks about a guy she's interested in.
  • Charlie wants to take a college freshman back to a motel room (after making out with her in his car), but she politely turns him down.
  • Kelly shows a little cleavage in her dress.
  • As Claudia and her girlfriend talk about the latter's possible date, they comment on her having sex with him and she says, "If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right."
  • We see Claudia and Charlie silhouetted in a motel room. They kiss and he pulls up her dress around her hips (we see nothing more than the silhouettes). It's somewhat implied that they have sex, but that's not for certain.
  • Michael, Kelly and her mother smoke several times, while Claudia and others smoke, but not as often (Claudia just once).
  • Background characters in bars smoke in several scenes.
  • Several scenes deal with Claudia's father leaving her mother (causing her not to leave the house for several months and apparently to faint in one scene -- which we don't see) and we hear that the father has stated that he wants no contact with his daughters.
  • Looking back on one's life and wondering if the right choices were made.
  • A bouncer (or some large man) removes a guy from a bar and shoves him away from the establishment.

  • Reviewed March 20, 1998

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