About Last Night

About Last Night photo starrating-3stars.jpgDavid Mamet’s 1974 play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” was sanitized into a 1986 brat pack romance starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore when they were in their early 20s. It was a moderate hit with audiences but David Mamet (and the critics) hated it. Flash forward nearly 3 decades later and the comedy about the divide between men and women has been remade. Director Steve Pink’s update is familiar stuff to anyone who has ever seen at least one romantic comedy in their life. He recycles timeworn ideas but now the location is Los Angeles. The story charts the relationship of two wildly different African-American couples who also happen to be friends. The principals skew closer to the age of 40 this time around. One is genuinely into long term commitment, the other craves instant gratification.  The material is more sexually explicit, but it‘s all because of frank repartee. It’s verbally raunchy, but not graphically so.

The real stars of About Last Night are the sidekicks Bernie and Joan, portrayed by Kevin Hart and Regina Hall. This is the 6th film the two have appeared in together, 7 if you count the upcoming Think Like a Man Too. However this is the first instance where they have been a couple. Note to Hollywood: continue pairing these two up as such.  Kevin Hart is a motor-mouthed comedian with enough energy for 5 romantic comedies. Regina Hall is his sassy match. She seems happier in an argument than at peace. Their characters are in it for the physical act and not about the commitment. They’re lewd, crude and yes hilariously over the top. They stand in stark contrast to actors Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant who play the reticent Danny and Debbie that fall deeply in love. Then they move in together. They’re shy types that develop a sweet intimacy, but they can be sensual too. On one occasion Debbie spends the evening making dinner. In one fell swoop, Danny knocks it all to the floor so they can have sex on the table. I couldn’t help thinking, you just ruined a lot of good food, to say nothing of her time and effort. No mention is made of that. Instead they squabble over things like getting a puppy.  <yawn> On New Year’s Eve, they actually complain about being boring. Only the dullest couple would fight over such a thing.

The narrative is frenzied and haphazard. Danny and Debbie’s relationship goes through unpredictable fluctuations. Danny progresses from nice guy to jerk on New Years Eve. Danny’s anger with staying at home is perplexing because up until that point he had always enjoyed a quiet evening with his girl. Debbie makes another delicious meal for Danny. Then Bernie calls him and they all end up going out instead. More wasted food. They meet up at the club and Danny starts pounding one drink after another at the bar. Who is THIS guy? Bernie and Joan’s behavior doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Joan is constantly getting angry at the drop of a hat, sometimes for reasons that are completely random and unpredicatble.

About Last Night concerns the sexual politics of two couples. The sweet one wants to commit following a one-night stand. The other passionately volatile, are like two moths drawn to a flame. The pace is frantic. The frenetic editing can go from screwball to headache in seconds. One minute of conversation between two people talking is a series of 30 jump cuts back-and-forth between two faces. Relax! It’s OK to linger on a shot for more than 2 seconds.  Director Steve Pink’s movie bears little resemblance to David Mamet’s play or dialogue, but that doesn‘t mean this isn‘t an improvement to the 1986 adaptation. Argumentative Bernie and Joan are fun to watch. Their shouted dialogue is delivered machine gun style at each other in rapid succession without breath. They interact in hilarious fashion and their discussions descend into bickering, often suddenly without warning. They quarrel, often for no good reason other than to provide laughs. They raise this from a clichéd chronicle to an enjoyable romp.

17 Responses to “About Last Night”

  1. lol “shouted dialogue.” i really want to see it. i like the idea of exploring sexual politics between genders.


  2. GaryLee828 Says:

    I am really surprised you wanted to see this since you seemed so down on Ride Along. What gives?


    • I think you have me confused with someone else. I haven’t seen Ride Along. I’d give it a chance though.


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        Oh, I know you haven’t seen Ride Along. When I mentioned Ride Along dominating Jack Ryan at the box office you responded with “Well have fun watching Ride Along” giving the impression no way in heck you’d be caught watching it yourself. Which is fine b/c I don’t want to see it, either. But then I was surprised you went to see “About Last Night”. No big deal. Was just curious what drew you to see it.


      • Well for starters, Ride Along is not the same movie as About Last Night. However Kevin Hart is funny so the fact that he is in both is a good thing.

        However, my comment had more to do with you disparaging Chris Pine and Jack Ryan simply because something else made more money at the box office.

        I’m a film critic. I’m willing to give everything a chance. 🙂


      • Man, I thought Chris Pine was a terrible choice for Jack Ryan and that the movie looked like a total dud long before it started showing – and when it totally flopped and was getting dominated by Ride Along, I just thought was funny. I am glad to see Chris Pine’s movies tanking b/c he’s just terrible.

        Yes, you are definitely a film critic. You need to become a professional full-time. That way you’ll have the time to review and critique more movies. Your pesky day job gets in the way of your movie watching and reviews. I don’t know how one becomes a professional movie critic, but you’d be good at it. And I would still argue when I disagree, even if you became the next Siskel, Ebert or Roper. 🙂

        And you are open to MOST films, but not all. I remember you saying there’s no way you would watch the “Carrie” remake. And you also seem pretty closed to a lot of horror films, but at the same time that’s your right. Just saying I don’t think you give quite “everything” a chance – but I know I surely don’t. I don’t like musicals or children’s movies. I’ve never even seen “Finding Nemo” or “Toy Story”, nor would I want to. But if you were to ever become a professional and work full-time then I guess you would be more open to watching more remakes and more horror. As of now time is limited, so you have to make certain films priority.


      • I love horror films, but good ones. The Ring and the original Insidious being recent examples. I’m still willing to give the Carrie remake a chance. However several reviewers I trust, absolutely hated it. And the thing is, I’m more willing to give other films a chance first.


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        I hear you, that makes sense. I don’t think you’ll be a huge fan of the Carrie or Robocop remakes, but I don’t think you’ll hate them, either. I think you may at least respect the effort given towards them, particularly Robocop which is a different vision from the original.

        BTW, what did you think of my Robocop review? I didn’t hear back. Or did you not get a chance to read?


  3. I am pleasantly surprised with this one. Looking at the trailer did not really give me the idea that it would be any good, considering how awful romantic comedies in cinema have been lately. Glad that it is enjoyable, and I think I may just have to give it a watch. And I like Kevin Hart, so that makes it even more worth my while.


    • You’re right. We’re experiencing a drought when it comes to quality romantic comedies lately. Silver Linings Playbook was the last great one and that was over a year ago. This wasn’t any where near as good but it’s the best I’ve seen since.


      • Yes, Silver Linings Playbook was 2012, but I just got around to watching it this week! And I totally agree with you! Another romance that I stumbled across recently that has comedic elements is Moonrise Kingdom. It was released around the same time as SLP, and is quite an enjoyable film.


      • Agreed. Wes Anderson has always been a favorite of mine. Can’t wait for The Grand Budapest Hotel.


  4. If it wasn’t for Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, this would have been awful. The movie was very scattered and a little boring. I saw “Ride Along” as well and Kevin really does make me laugh. He makes a mediocre movie, tolerable. 3 stars.


  5. Nice review! Glad you liked Hall. I haven’t seen this yet, but I plan to catch it when it comes out on DVD. I’ve always been a big fan of Regina Hall, she’s always had excellent comedic timing, so I’m happy to hear she’s good in this.


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