“It’s about what men say, it’s about what women think” yet, it has nothing new to say about the modern day man that we haven’t already seen nor does it give any new insight on the mentality of contemporary, independent women. Instead, About Last Night becomes a long and stretched out account, chronicling the relationships of two couples that goes well beyond the night, the morning, and a year into each others lives. Don’t be fooled, About Last Night is a confused and misguided Valentine’s Day centric romantic comedy with a few good laughs and some very absurd final act redemption.
The confusion of the Night begins well before any frames of the film are shown. First off, the film which is based off of David Mamet’s play titled Sexual Perversity in Chicago, takes place in Los Angeles. Mamet, a proud and notorious Chicagoan, has his battle of the sexes play butchered right from the writing process. By using the city of Chicago as an essential playground for the couple’s to question and argue their sense of regionalism, professionalism and their working class personas, the very fibers of the economic struggles each couple are facing never really comes to fruition on screen. Fine, I understand the film’s desire to modernize the source material, but for heaven’s sake don’t change the location! Much like anything Hollywood get’s their hands on, the film becomes an example of motion picture capitalism–which ironically defines the film’s leading male role perfectly.
So far, 2014 has been Kevin Hart’s year in theatres. From the box office success of January’s atrociously generic Ride Along (which somehow conquered the domestic box office for three weeks in a row) Hart quickly capitalizes on this comedy with a problematic, commercialized story of love, break-ups, make-ups, and elongated one night stands for a wholly commercial holiday audience. Hart, who delivers his Vince Vaughan-esque black comedy interpretation filled with prolonged and out-winded comedic rants, loud antics, and screeching punch-line deliveries, are some of the best and worst parts of the Night. I will admit, there are moments throughout the genuine “guys time” scenes where Hart and his calm blue-eyed co-star Michael Ealy, share some real laughs (some of the best comedy in the film next to the scenes Hart shares with Regina Hall), but for the films length, the laughs are too far and few between.
About Last Night has little to do with understanding one nights stands, and like many before it, becomes a comedy targeting couples and the consequential mistakes they make right from the start. From picturesque dog walks, to candle lit bathtubs and dental offices, to perfectly decorated balconies and work parties, About Last Night is the reason why normal guys, with normal jobs, and normal looks, never get the attention of the girl next door, and that sucks! While the film switches between lovestruck couples, following them through their relationship as they express lust, face common issues, and are at times manic examples of relationships doomed to fail, About Last Night looks it’s audience straight in the face and lies, giving the false hope that anything is possible, when it clearly is not–unless you have the perfect brick reveal LA apartment and a six-pack.
The film is centered around two couples; Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall), and Danny (Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant). When Bernie and Joan meet at a bar, which leads to a wild and adventurous night of debauchery, their friends Danny and Debbie tag-along to make their second meeting as normal as possible. But instead of cutting the tension, both Debbie and Danny fall in love with each other in the process. It is during Debbie and Danny’s deep love spell where the dynamics of Joan and Bernie’s relationship waver; breaking up or staying together, constantly bickering, awkward sex, and outrageous role-play; Bernie and Joan juxtapose the difference between physical relationships, against relationships that are deep, complex, and driven by emotion–much like Danny and Debbie’s. Instead of opting for a deep analysis of the mental strife that modern day American couples face, About Last Night becomes a wacky and romanticized montage of sex scenes. Thankfully, most of the scenes involving Hall and Hart are where Hart’s comedic hysteria and raunchiness shines, providing lengthy time periods of extreme, uncontrollable laughter.
Unfortunately for the film, the arguments escalate quickly, and sometimes out of thin air. The tension is quick-paced and the conflict is always rising, yet, the resolutions are even quicker, happening swiftly and without due thought. For most of it’s run-time, About Last Night becomes an overdrawn and lingering hangover of unwanted drama with unexplained happy endings.
Although there is great potential behind and in-front of the camera, About Last Night is a film content with generic delivery and box office success by means of giving the audience exactly what they want, exactly what they expect,and alongside little instances of what they have already seen before. One of the biggest disappointments with the film is director Steve Pink and his inability to hone in on the distinguishable black comedy between men and women that make other comedies like Think Like a Man, The Wood and The Best Man such certified hits. Instead, Pink and company take small hints of these previously mentioned successes, like Hart and Ealy who both star in Think Like a Man, and use them towards a film that acts like a holdover film for the sequel. After all, the trailer of Think Like a Man Too does debut in front of About Last Night.
Goddess Paula Patton makes a small and unnecessary cameo in the film, a role that is a regurgitation of so many cliched and obvious psycho ex-girlfriends who get completely drunk, passes out on your couch and over compensates by sprawling all over your floor attempting to make it look sexy. Patton‘s looks and talent are quite obviously put to waste here.
Like any good titled film about one night stands, career searching, and friendship, love always seems to get in the way. The night may last a lifetime in your memory, but the reality remains that most modern day romantic comedies are more concerned with About This Morning…and the future, than last night. For the most part, with so many of these formulaic rom-coms, the end result is usually something we don’t dwell long on, nor do they leave a very lasting, memorable impression.
Night Film Reviews: 5 Out of 10 Stars.
Is About Last Night going to be Hart’s February hit? Or is it going to under perform so many of the other Valentine’s Day fair? Is there anything About Last Night that you want to remember forever? Leave your comments, thoughts and express your voice below.