Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: About Last Night

Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
The new version of "About Last Night" wins this weekend's remake sweepstakes by default. It's definitely better than the reboot of "Robocop" and, well, I haven't seen the remake of "Endless Love," but the reviews for that film have not been particularly been kind.

This is not to say that I necessarily endorse "About Last Night," which is based on a 1974 David Mamet play titled "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" that yielded a much better cinematic adaptation with the same title in 1986.

In this new version, the ubiquitous Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy play the men out for one night stands who eventually become involved in sort-of serious relationships with two women - Regina Hall and Joy Bryant. While Edward Zwick's previous film version was more of a melodrama, this new version plays up the laughs, a majority of which are provided by Hart.

As Danny, Ealy is the straight man to Hart's love'm and leave'm Bernie, while Bryant, as Debbie, is the female equivalent to Ealy, while Hall, as Joan, is the wild card.

The film gets off to a sluggish start and it feels as though the characters are reading dialogue from a screenplay, rather than playing parts. The humor and raunchiness often feel forced.

At around the halfway mark, "About Last Night" picks up some steam and the characters begin to feel more fleshed out and lived in. So, it's unfortunate that in the final stretch they are forced to once again act as characters in a movie - Danny, for example, temporarily kills his relationship with Debbie, mostly due to plot contrivances, rather than his behavior being in sync with his character's actions in the scenes leading up to it.

The film does not provide any particular insights into the modern dating scene or relationships at all, for that matter. And, I suppose, it is not required to. "About Last Night" is primarily made up of cliches from other romantic comedies about relationships and commitment. But the film is good for a few laughs and is amusing enough. And it's likely the only film based on a Mamet play to include a sex scene involving a chicken mask. So, there's that.

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