February 13, 2014

About Last Night

Uh, sorry baby, but my name's still atop the marquee

Grade: C –
Director: Steve Pink
Starring: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant and Christopher McDonald
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

If Kevin Hart’s recent spate of ubiquity has proven anything, it’s that the flibbertigibbet funnyman is both the best and worst part of his films. On one hand, his high-wire, rapid-fire repartee can elevate even the most mundane scene into something you have to follow for fear of missing his latest zany zinger or nutty non sequitur. However, Hart also hijacks his vehicles, whether intentionally or by involuntary force of nature. Consequently, there’s barely enough oxygen left of the rest of the cast and even the storyline to breathe, suffocating anything approaching nuance or intricate plot development.

The latest exhibit is About Last Night, a remake of the 1986 Brat Pack-era original starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. This modern reimagining incorporates the same basic storyline but with an African-American cast and sensibility. Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Hart) are best buds, and after Bernie enjoys a drunken, raunchy roll in the hay with Joan (Regina Hall), he introduces the reserved Danny to Debbie (Joy Bryant), Joan’s quiet roommate. Danny and Debbie enjoy their own one-night stand that quickly escalates into a full-blown romance, all while the tempestuous Bernie and Joan fall in and out of lust.

If it’s possible for a movie to be both exhausting and mundane, About Last Night is it. The narrative ping-pongs between the two couples. Danny and Debbie’s relationship arc goes from courting to moving in together to (gasp) coping ebbs in the romance, with any disagreement blown into a cataclysmic event that necessitates someone moving out or needing their space. No new ground is plowed, and if that sounds boring, it is. So, Pink often oscillates back to the Kevin Hart Show, which often features Bernie and Joan’s vulgar, shrill sniping.

And so it goes, until everyone discovers they really love each other and Pink decides it’s a good time to roll credits. About Last Night promises a story about the realities of romance, but what it actually delivers couldn’t feel more planned and processed. Or more like a Kevin Hart stand-up routine.

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