Let me get something out the way: the smartest decision the filmmakers behind About Last Night (director Steve Pink and screenwriter Leslye Headland) executed was transplanting its setting from Chicago to Los Angeles. Only in LA, with its culture of self-obsession and inward focus, is it believable that characters this beautiful and successful and intelligent would be handicapped in finding and sustaining harmonious relationships. And thanks to the smart, honest, hypersexual dialogue that manages to be both raunchy yet sweet, plus the realistic chemistry of its leads, About Last Night defies all expectations of both Hollywood Rom-Coms and remakes in that it’s genuinely romantic and superior than its predecessor.
Bernie and David (Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy, filling the respective shoes worn by Jim Belushi and Rob Lowe in the 1986 original of the same name) are best friends and playing the field. David, the sensitive and romantic type, is coming off of an ugly break up and is gradually regaining his confidence. Bernie is the unabashed bachelor, who thinks David is foolish for subscribing to the facade that is monogamy and commitment. Enter Joan and Debbie (Regina Hall and Joy Bryant replacing Elizabeth Perkins and Demi Moore), are also best friends and roommates who find exactly what they are looking for in Bernie and David. Joan and Bernie relish in being sexually frank and freaky without being bothered by that minor detail called love, while Debbie and David are both looking to settle down and build a home. And thus the stage is set. Will Bernie and Joan’s fights and toxic talk of relationships tarnish Debbie and David’s purview of it? Will David and Debbie’s insecurities and idealism get in their own way?
While we care about both parties involved, it is Kevin Hart and Regina Hall who effortlessly steal the show. Hall, whose slapstick and quick-witted brand of humor went underappreciated in the Scary Movie franchise, is a formidable opponent to Hart’s undeniable comedic prowess and improvisational skills. Watching them verbally spar and trade insults is worth the price of admission alone. We all know Hart can command the attention of a stadium full of people with this stand-up routines, but here we get to see Kevin Hart the actor, and he let’s his rambunctious stripe of comedy flourish without ever deflating into a one dimensional caricature. Michael Ealy shows some new depth as well, but I was too distracted by the fact that he is starting to look like the Skeletor version of Mario Van Peebles.
David Mamet, whose legacy is define by sharp, acerbic, F bomb-laden screenplays about the harsh yet enlightening realities of human relationships, should be proud of this adaptation of his play Sexual Perversity in Chicago as it captures its tone more authentically than the 1986 version. If anything, About Last Night proved two things: Kevin Hart is well on his way to being a credible leading man (as well as having three potential $100 million-grossing films in 2014 alone), and that Hollywood is still capable of producing adult comedies that are engaging, funny, sincere and, most importantly, don’t insult our intelligence.