'About Last Night': Hart and Hall bring life to remake
Kevin Hart brings his A game to About Last Night. For those of us despairing that we'd ever see the little man at his antic best, after that lame second concert film and half-speed blockbuster Ride Along, this is good news.
Paired with Regina Hall, who gives as good as she gets in the raunchy romantic African American remake of the 1986 Rob Lowe/Demi Moore romance based on David Mamet's play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Hart knocks back drinks and blasts out one-liners about the opposite sex and relationships.
And Hall, Joan to Hart's Bernie, throws it right back at him and anybody else within range.
Their banter is so sharp and so well-timed that in many of their scenes, this ill-matched but perfectly suited couple are shouting funny stuff at the same time. They do what other versions of this once-cutting edge piece only flirted with: They overwhelm the romantic leads.
That would be the "serious" couple performed with a minimum of pathos and comic pop by Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. Theirs is the relationship we track in this story, one so predictable and bland that the movie is waiting for Hart to show up again and Hall to march into the scene and take him down.
Danny (Ealy) meets Debbie (Bryant) during a drunken outing with Bernie and Joan. Over the months, as the louder couple feud, break up, and hook up again, Debbie and Danny get close, closer, then domestic.
The boys and girls debrief each other in assorted Los Angeles bars (sexual perversity in L.A., this time), where it's always "about last night" - explicit, blow-by-blow accounts of seductions, pickups, and bad moves each thinks the other is making. One commits, the other "knows when to get out." One puts on "relationship weight," the other is looking to adopt a dog with her man.
Breakups are abrupt and kind of halfhearted in Leslye Headland's updated script, though girl bonding over Bruno Mars and Nutella straight out of the jar is funny. Career stumbles and taking a stand on principle over a bar owner's beer bill seem flimsy in the current economy.
Which is a problem the whole film, funny as it can be, struggles with. How can you break new ground on "rules" and relationship "tells" after Friends and Seinfeld and Rules of Engagement and scores of films and TV shows have re-covered that ground in the ensuing decade?
The sex scenes are less romantic and generally played more for laughs. And the conclusions are obvious shortly after the opening credits.
What keeps us around until the closing is the electrical charge between Hall and Hart. They're the Wimbledon Finals of sexy, sassy, drunken comedic banter - pros, evenly matched enough to put on a great show, even if they make us forget the rest of the movie around them as they do.
About Last Night **1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Steve Pink. With Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, and Christopher McDonald.
Released by Screen Gems.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 mins.
Parent's guide: R (sexual content, language, brief drug use)
Playing at: area theaters