ABOUT LAST NIGHT
Director: Steve Pink
Starring: Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Adam Rodriguez, Paula Patton, Christopher McDonald, Joe Lo Truglio
Is the third time the charm in regards to my relationship, or lack thereof, with Kevin Hart? You may remember from my reviews of Grudge Match and Ride Along that I have not hopped on the Hart bandwagon despite him being a huge box office draw and bonafide laugh-a-minute star to other people. Could he finally star in something that I found funny or have I just given in to his self-deprecating type humor? Could Regina Hall be just the right costar for him?
Bernie (Hart) invites his coworker and best friend Danny (Ealy) on his date with Joan (Hall) while she invites her roommate Debbie (Bryant) along for the night out as well. Bernie and Joan are two loud-mouthed, wise ass individuals who seem perfect for each other. Maybe a little too perfect. They start tossing the drinks and shots back like they’re at some sort of frat party. Danny and Debbie sit back and take in the behavior while cautiously keeping an eye on the time. According to Bernie and Joan, those two are being boring due to the fact they have to work the next day. Debbie and Danny leave early and end up spending the night together.
Bernie and Danny recap the previous night’s activities at work the next day like any two friends would. Their take on the evening is a bit different than how Joan and Debbie recall it. As the months carry on, Danny and Debbie’s one night stand eventual leads to a budding romance. They move in and take those next big steps in a relationship and deal with everything that goes into that. Joan and Bernie do not have the same luck as their adventurous nights in the bedroom come to a screeching halt. This bad breakup leads to many hysterical verbal tirades whenever they have to see each other. Meanwhile, Danny and Debbie’s exes (Patton and Rodriguez) come back into the picture and prove that the strings from those past relationships may not have been completely detached.
As you may recall, About Last Night is a remake of the 1986 film of the same name with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in the roles played here by Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins had the supporting characters that Kevin Hart and Regina Hall play. Both films are based off the stage play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” by David Mamet. I have not seen the original film, but I did read the play back in college which was at least a decade ago now. Have no fear as I will not be comparing the two movies. It should be noted that the location has changed to Los Angeles. If you are familiar with those previous incarnations, you will get a kick out of the fact that there is a scene between Ealy and Bryant as they watch the 1986 film and one of the characters talks about the “sexual perversity in Los Angeles”.
I mentioned my lack of appreciation for Kevin Hart above and while that easily could have stopped me from seeing this, the trailers looked promising and I thought if they stuck close to the original source material, I could get on board. Color me surprised as I actually found Hart to be really enjoyable here. In his past films, I feel like he has just playing Kevin Hart and the script always seemed written for him or he improvised his way through many scenes. The script by Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) seems pretty genuine and untouched here. That’s not to say that I believe every scene was shot the way it was written on the page, but the rapid fire dialogue between all four characters is evident and doesn’t seem like it needed any help from Hart or Regina Hall (Scary Movie). Hall and Hart are dynamite here as their antics and verbal sparring toward each other keep the laughs steady throughout the whole movie. Some may find it exhausting as they can be loud, abrasive, and slightly obnoxious, but their chemistry and timing balance that out. As the main couple, Joy Bryant (“Parenthood”) and Michael Ealy (Think Like a Man, “The Good Wife”) work really well together making their relationship very believable and plausible. Yes, it does get a bit predictable as you expect his character to make some bonehead moves along the way. That does happen in real life, but don’t you just want the couple in a romantic comedy to just do the right things the whole way through?
Director Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) has a strong enough cast that makes the movie work and keeps you cheering for Danny and Debbie. He and Leslye Headland have updated it to the modern era as discussions about Facebook statuses and the use of the “ignore” button on their phones come into play. I am sure fans of the original 1986 film will be skeptical, and I have a feeling David Mamet will just ignore this one. Is it groundbreaking in the world of romantic comedies? Not really, but it certainly is better than a majority of them out there.
Is it worth your trip to the movies? Yes. Kevin Hart is actually funny here.
RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)