ABOUT LAST NIGHT
***1/2 (out of 5)
February 14, 2014
Kevin Hart as BERNIE
Michael Ealy as DANNY
Regina Hall as JOAN
Joy Bryant as DEBBIE
Christopher MacDonald as CASEY MCNEIL
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Steve Pink
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day when lovers can get together to watch movies, eat nice dinners and canoodle later on that night. Sure, it is time for romances in the movie theater, but it’s also time for something else.
Remakes of films from the 1980s!
This week in theaters, we see three different remakes: “RoboCop,” “Endless Love” and now “About Last Night.” I haven’t seen this many 80s remakes releasing in the theaters since “The Karate Kid” and “The A-Team” went head-to-head in the summer of 2010.
It’s been years since I saw the original “About Last Night,” which is actually based on a David Mamet play. As I recall, I wasn’t a huge fan of the film in the first place, probably because I saw it in high school, and my teenager experience was a bit too narrow for me to really understand the nuances of adult relationships. Still, I didn’t even notice any changes (aside from the obvious racial restructuring), nor was I bothered by them.
In this new film, Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy play Bernie and Danny, two single men in Los Angeles. They each start a relationship with roommates Joan (Regina Hall) and Debbie (Joy Bryant). They’re very different relationships, and they go through their ups and downs over the course of a year.
Really a character study of different people and how they deal with their significant others, “About Last Night” fits together nicely. Mamet’s influence can be felt in the infrastructure of the story, and the script has been modernized and adapted to fit the comedy delivery of current box-office “it guy” Kevin Hart.
For the most part, the film is well acted, with Hart and Hall playing the outrageous fools while Ealy and Bryant take on the more down-to-earth real-life characters. In fact, the only real stumbling block in terms of acting comes with a brief appearance by Paula Patton, who is simply awful as the vixen. Watching this, I was reminded how her pretty face but deep-space vacuum of acting made a film like “Baggage Claim” nearly unbearable.
Ultimately, “About Last Night” is a well-made film with the new script adapted perfectly to its cast. The four-person ensemble plays off each other well, with the Hart/Hall and Ealy/Bryant pairings showing a nice amount of chemistry.
I’m not ashamed to say I laughed at this movie. There are some over-the-top moments that don’t feel forced or manipulated for the audience. The comedy comes not just from some sharply-written dialogue, but also from some physical scenes that took me by surprise.
But more than comedy is needed to make a film like this entertaining, and “About Last Night” managed to do that. I got into the characters and was interested to see where they’d end up in their journeys.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this film for a first date because it does tread into the more difficult parts of a grown-up relationship, but if you’ve been dating for a while, it’s a safe bet for a night out.