Monday, February 17, 2014

About Last Night



The enjoyable but slight About Last Night is a remake of a 1986 movie of the same name that I haven’t seen, and both movies originate in an early David Mamet play called Sexual Peversity in Chicago. There isn’t a pressing reason to release a new About Last Night in 2014, but if the only reason this film exists is to give work to its talented African-American cast then the results prove that job was worth doing. The remake moves the action from Chicago to Los Angeles, where buddies Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) are out for the evening with Bernie’s new friend-with-benefits Joan (Regina Hall). Joan brings along her friend Debbie (Joy Bryant), whose pairing off with Danny sets up the movie’s dual storylines.

If About Last Night is “about” anything it is the difficulties of finding modern love, even when it’s standing in front of you. The bawdy, highly sexual relationship of Bernie and Joan is played with terrific comic force by Hart and Hall, who each seem to get a kick out of egging the other to new levels of furor. I don’t know if Kevin Hart will ever be able to carry a movie on his own, though he’ll get the chance, but here he moves beyond the good-natured sidekick persona that has gotten him this far. Bernie and Joan serve as confidants to and matchmakers for Danny and Debbie, and it’s this second relationship that gets most of the screen time. Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant are both good, smart actors but the script by Leslye Headland skips over the fun and discovery in the relationship goes right to the heavy stuff. It’s implied that Danny isn’t quite ready to grow up and resents making less money but these things are never spoken. Director Steve Pink favors the soulful glance over the loud argument in these scenes, and Danny and Debbie could have used some of the spikiness Bernie and Joan have. About Last Night ends on an open-ended note that it comes by honestly, but it winds up telling the story of the wrong two lovers.

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