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EMPTY CALORIES A CLUNKER THAT PASSES AS GOURMET CINEMA

YOU KNOW how, when you're out at night, you're laughing, drinking, flirting and dancing your butt off and you think you're having the best time ever, until the next morning comes and then you realize you had a hideous time and there's a disgusting taste in your mouth?

That's what seeing this movie is like.

Awwww, look. They tried with this one, they really did.

They cast it "cute," giving lead parts to the now-mature Matthew Broderick ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Biloxi Blues"), and rising star Annabella Sciorra ("True Love," "Jungle Fever," "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle").

They laced it with cameos, including a frighteningly puffy Louise Lasser ("Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman") and Gary Shandling.

They even set it in the always-precious Greenwich Village.

And then they promptly forgot what they were filming.

"The Night We Never Met" isn't so much a comedy romantic or a drama or a fantasy as it is all three, plus about six additional genres all vying for your attention, your laughs, your tears and your Sober Moments of Reflection. We were all very tired after watching it. Here's why.

Sam, Ellen and Brian are 20-somethings who have kicked in $92 a month to sublet a Village studio "space" on alternate nights. (A Greenwich Village studio for $276 a month? Yeah. And Broadway tickets are free.)

Sam, a chef at the Dean & DeLuca gourmet food emporium (of course), uses the studio retreat to cook romantic dinners, as he is trying to get over a tortuous affair with a disgusting French performance artist named Pastel, played by a dyed-blond Jeanne Tripplehorn ("Basic Instinct") who is pouty and annoyingly useless in the part and should have been left on the cutting room floor.

Ellen (Sciorra) uses her nights to play chamber music and paint her heart out, temporarily escaping the suburban hell of married life with a dry cleaning magnate.

Brian (comic Kevin Anderson), so completely moronic a yuppie that you yearn to reach out and slap pesto all over his face, uses his pied-a-terre to burp, scratch and watch sports with his buds while escaping his napkin-ironing preppy fiance played by Justine Bateman, who wisely waited five years after the end of "Family Ties" before she shrewdly selected this Oscar-winning part. (Warning: Bateman's first scene has her in a muy severe dominatrix outfit. It's supposed to be Brian's early-morning fantasy dream, but the guy behind us just kept muttering, "God, take it away, make it stop.")

Their lives unfold.

Sam waits daily on an endless procession of stiff-haired Westchester matrons who want just a half pound, no, make it a quarter . . . a little less . . . no, less . . . no, a little more . . . more . . . no, less, I said less . . . there, that much . . . of gourmet cheeses, caviar and coffees. His co-worker -- an achingly annoying eco-nerd -- offers lame advice on women while conspicuously reading Susan Faludi's "Backlash." God, it's all so PC you want to bolt to the lobby and come back with a cardboard tray full of hot dogs which you proceed to eat loudly, lamenting only that concession stands do not sell semi-raw veal chops.

Anyway. Sam longs to meet a woman he can truly love, and maybe cook for.

Ellen longs to meet her soul-mate.

Brian longs to get . . . ah, well, you know.

And, look! Who would have thought?! Sam and Ellen start leaving each other notes, sparks fly on paper, but two of the roomies switch nights, so Ellen arranges to meet Sam, but she winds up meeting Brian and . . .

No, we won't say it. We'll save the ending for you. We won't kill the surprise for you.

But what we'd like to do is kill the idiots who sewed this thing together. Movie
The Night We Never Met
Rating: *
Starring Matthew Broderick and Annabella Sciorra.
Rated R in area theaters.

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