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It’s not surprising that the remake of the 1986 film About Last Night … is broader, cruder and raunchier than the original. What is surprising it that’s also much, much funnier. While much of the subtlety of this romantic tale adapted from David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, about a new couple struggling with relationship issues, has been lost (as well as the ellipsis of the title), this version scores enough rude laughs to satisfy men as well as their dates.
The chief innovation of the remake, besides its largely African-American cast, is to up the romantic ante by having the main characters’ respective best friends involved in a relationship as well. But they couldn’t be more different. While Danny (Michael Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant) engage in a typical screen romance depicted via scenes of decorous lovemaking, sentimental montages and a communal bath surrounded by candles, their friends Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) are engaged in a hilariously mutually abusive death match marked by bouts of frenzied slapstick copulation involving such props as a dentist’s chair and, in one of the more outrageously funny scenes, a chicken outfit.
The quartet meets initially on a double date, with Danny and Debbie immediately developing a mutual attraction which lands them in bed. After some initial awkwardness about such issues as apartment keys and the like, Debbie soon moves into Danny’s skimpily furnished bachelor pad, which she promptly outfits with a dining room table. But for reasons that are never quite clear, other than Danny’s being miserable about his job and skittish about commitment, their relationship soon begins floundering, despite the adorable puppy he’s bought for her.
Meanwhile, their counterparts, who are obviously made for each other with their shared compulsion for outrageous behavior, are enjoying a casual fling marked by tempestuous fights and equally tempestuous bouts of raucous sex. But the conflicts soon begin to dominate, and while Danny and Debbie tearfully break up, Bernie and Joan engage in all-out warfare marked by expletive-filled screaming matches and one-upping each other with ever more colorful insults.
The storyline involving Danny and Debbie is more than a little bit dull, and Ealy and Bryant, while attractive, likable performers, are unable to compensate for their characters’ mope-ishness. Fortunately, Hart and Hall, displaying an amazing chemistry, are frequently on hand to liven up the proceedings. Delivering their rapid-fire bitchy repartee with a furious comic energy that has a wholly improvisational feel, they make us care far more about their characters’ relationship while running away with the picture in the process.
While director Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) clearly relishes the more outrageous elements of Leslye Headland’s screenplay based on Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue’s for the original film, he’s unable to bring much life to such mundane plot elements as Danny’s regaining his self-respect by going to work at an Irish pub owned by his late father’s best friend (Christopher McDonald).
But despite its schizophrenic nature, the picture manages to be entertaining fun. At one point, Danny and Debbie are amusingly shown watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in the 1986 film on television and begin debating about whether it’s a “chick movie” or a “dude movie.” This version actually manages to have it both ways. It’s both a chick movie and a dude movie.
Opens Feb. 14 (Screen Gems)
Production: Olive Bridge Entertainment, Rainforest Films
Cast: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant, Christopher McDonald, Adam Rodriguez, Joe Lo Truglio, Paula Patton
Director: Steve Pink
Screenwriter: Leslye Headland
Producers: Will Gluck, William Packer
Executive producers: Alicia Emmrich, Glenn S. Gainor
Director of photography: Michael Barrett
Editors: Tracy Wadmore-Smith, Shelly Westerman
Production designer: Jon Gary Steele
Costume designer: Ann Foley
Composer: Marcus Miller
Rated R, 100 min.
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