If you're familiar with the 1986 comedy About Last Night, you'll remember just how big it made Actors Rob Lowe and Demi Moore - fresh off their success with St. Elmo's Fire, the two were part of the Brat pack, a collection of young talent including Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, and Molly Ringwald. For many late teens, these and other films defined our generation because their themes hadn't been addressed before. Today, such 'Coming-of-Age' films are standard issue, and usually contain more raunch than an actual message. The 2014 remake is just similar enough that we can appreciate the old, while laughing hysterically at the new.
The plot centers around the relationship of Danny (Michael Early) and Debbie (Joy Bryant), who meet at a local club, hook up, then try the whole "friends with benefits" game before moving in, falling out of love, and eventually separating. On the other side is the womanizer Bernie (Kevin Hart), who meets Debbie's friend Joan (Regina Hall), a rambunctious soul who seems evenly matched against Bernie's sexual appetite. As Bernie and Danny deal with their relationships and work stressers, Debbie and Joan try to understand their men's psyches, while their men try to get them into bed. The results lead to impossible declarations and painful choices that both couples must make.
Based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Director Steve Pink and Writer Leslye Headland have fashioned a good old fashioned remake while allowing our leads the opportunity to play off each other in some hilarious skits. They take the raunch up a notch, with everything from profanity to sex in chicken masks - yes, this appears to be a Hart thing. The center of this affair is strangely not Hart, whose supporting presence actually helps the film - this is Ealy's and Bryant's show, and the two play serious quite well. We like the level-headed Ealy in Almost Human, and here his somewhat tortured persona is terrifically relatable - he seems like a guy who's just trying to figure out who he is without all the drama that people these days think is a necessary aspect to their lives. His relationship with Bryant works not because the two look good, but because we can see ourselves in them. Hart and Hall are that dramatic couple no one wants to have dinner with, but their banter is pitch-perfect throughout the film. They represent the film's joyous center, with Hart continuing to solidify his resume with each new project and Hall's precociousness adding a sassy level to things. She waves her finger at the little guy while demonstrating her obvious sexuality while Bryant and Ealy look on with horrified glances.
Pink also picks up the sex, showing lots of body parts without giving up all the goods. Moore is quite naked in the original, but the lack of it here actually adds a more respectable sexual tone, while pushing the comedic boundaries in ways the original never could. Pink never makes things look like After Dark on Cinemax, keeping it sensible and always in tune with Headland's story. The curious thing is that Pink tries to make Los Angeles - a city well-known for its lack of public walking spaces - into something resembling New York or even Chicago. It's a minor thing, but when you see a flower shop or a pet adoption on a busy downtown street corner, you have to call BS. Besides, it makes us feel better to callously critical. Nevertheless, the final product issues just enough tips-of-the-hat to the original - including a cameo of sorts for Lowe and Moore - to make our creative team look way smart. And although the ending is predictable to a fault, we still enjoyed it because of its ability to portray relationships for what they really are: work. If you know someone who claims these things are easy, then they're either crazy, stupid, or blind. About Last Night never shies away from this, but instead embraces and shows it off like Hall's ridiculously short dresses.
Unlike most Valentines Week movies that guys will dread sitting through, we think About Last Night offers a satisfying alternative that works well on several levels. It's definitely different enough to feel new while honoring the 80's classic just enough to peak our interest to revisit it. With no less than three 80's flicks either slated for release or already in theaters, we can see this entertaining affair remaining on our list for quite some time, although we're not sure it's a Day One purchase on Blu-ray. About Last Night is rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use and has a runtime of 100 minutes.
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