‘About Last Night’ Review
"Remake" is often Hollywood code for "rehashed, lazy cash grab," but sometimes a basic premise can be given a refreshing new spin with the right cast and crew behind it. Starring Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant, 'About Last Night' is the rare remake that justifies its existence by being freshly fun and thoroughly entertaining.
Based on the 1986 Rob Lowe/Demi Moore rom-com that was based on the David Mamet play 'Sexual Perversity in Chicago,' 'About Last Night' follows the highs and lows of two couples over one year in contemporary Los Angeles. Ealy and Bryant play the central pair, Danny and Debbie, but it's Hart and Hall who steal the spotlight as their wild card best friends, Bernie and Joan. From the fist scene, this comedy roars to life by intercutting scenes of Bernie and Joan recounting their one night stand to respective besties, Danny and Debbie. The foursome are now setting out on a non-date that will prove the start of something big, romantic and sometimes tragic for all of the above.
Hart is well known for his wild energy and explosive comedic stylings, but Hall is a revelation. Not only does she meet him blow for banter-filled blow, but also she manages to run away with scenes with a sassy, unapologetic bravado. Whether they are making a scene with a raucous fight or getting truly freaky in the sheets, these two 'Think Like a Man' co-stars are absolutely hilarious together, and should be teamed up for another rom-com immediately. It's a shame Ealy and Bryant can't quite keep up.
These two have the film's heavy lifting, unfolding a romance that starts off hot and heavy, but then goes through some serious growing pains. Ealy and Bryant get less witty one-liners than their cutup co-stars, more scenes of sniping and subtle relationship unrest. They do a fine job and share a warm and enviable onscreen chemistry, but their love story feels a little rushed and ultimately nowhere near as compelling as Joan and Bernie's. Every time one of these loud friends storms off screen, the film's energy and momentum plummet. For all Ealy's charm and Bryant's vulnerability, they are just not as fun as the film's whacky supporting characters. So their story gets overshadowed despite being central.
While the love story's third act becomes kind of bumbling and a subplot about Danny's job feels undercooked, the script by Leslye Headland is still pretty spectacular. The writer-director of the underappreciated 2012 comedy 'Bachelorette' serves as screenwriter here, and once more embraces the R-rating to create dialogue that is raunchy, wrong and supremely funny. I found myself frantically scribbling down one-liners throughout, like Joan's description of Bernie's private parts: "Impressive but not threatening, like the John Legend of penises." Or Bernie's assessment of Joan's body: "I think that girl's ass should be worshipped by indigenous people!" Headland also offers sensational visual gag setups, like an awkward bathroom hookup, Halloween costumes that include Hart as Channing Tatum circa 'Magic Mike' and a kinky sex act that will have audiences howling.
Of course, a good script can be wasted if not for a solid director. Thankfully, 'About Last Night' boasts 'Hot Tub Time Machine' helmer Steve Pink, who clearly embraced the materials and pushed his cast to go for the gusto. It's a smart division of labor. Ealy and Bryant make the movie moving, while Hart and Hall make it hysterical. All in all, 'About Last Night' is a fantastic update on the first adaptation, pulling from the basic battle of the sexes premise to create something modern, inclusive and exciting. Of all the movies opening on Valentine's Day, this would be the one I'd most recommend for date night.
Watch the 'About Last Night' Trailer