Back in 1986, when Brat Packers Demi Moore and Rob Lowe were having their illicit trysts in About Last Night, it was a totally scandalous thing. It was a different time and one-night stands were viewed differently than they are now, although there's no denying that Moore and Lowe sizzled in their depiction of youthful romantic indecision fueled by raging libidos. But this is 2014 and the African-American led remake, yet another adaptation of David Mamet's play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago", has a modern take on relationships that is funnier and more insightful than the original.
It helps that this version has the comedic power of Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, who play the bickering on again/off again couple, Bernie and Joan. They don't just steal the show once; they steal it multiple times, overshadowing the primary duo played by Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy. Hart, Hall, and Ealy have starred in multiple films together at this point, and their chemistry together is off the charts, while Bryant sometimes seems like a fourth wheel. That's not to say she's bad, because she isn't. She has an easygoing, embracing personality that works well with Ealy, it's just her character doesn't have the pop of the other three.
The sexual perversion moves to Los Angeles, where buddies Bernie and Danny (Ealy) kick back drinks at whatever bar they happen to be at while discussing their latest conquests. Bernie is a clown, a mighty mite with a big mouth and bigger ego, perfect for Hart in other words. Danny is calm, cool, and reluctant to dive back into the dating scene after a harsh break-up with the mysterious Allison (Paul Patton, in an under-written cameo). But when Bernie starts hooking up with the sexually vigorous Joan, Danny is also warming up to her best friend, Debbie (Bryant). As Bernie and Joan take off like a rocket ship, Debbie and Danny play it slower....well, after the unexpected one-night-stand, that is.
The film tracks both relationships as they run hot and cold, neither ever seeming to be on the same path at the same time. Bernie and Joan are the more interesting duo; an oil and water pair with undeniable chemistry, mostly due to their mutual self-involvement. Their exchanges, both verbal and sexual, are sharp and pretty nasty (there's a chicken suit introduced at one point), but they form the comedic backbone of the film that works better as a comedy than as a romance thanks in part to director Steve Pink. As the "boring" couple, Debbie and Danny go through the rigors any serious couple does. The honeymoon period is fantastic and helps them through their past hang-ups, then things cool down into comfortable domesticity, until soon she is looking for a new dog (as a baby surrogate) and he is looking for any opportunity to hang out with his buddies. Their relationship goes through ups and downs in broad strokes to fit the episodic nature of Leslye Headland's script, which leans heavily on humor rather than deep emotional truths. When the girls are depressed they indulge in Nutella binges; the guys take their frustrations out on video games.
Hart has been delivering his A+ material since 2012's Think Like a Man, and this film shares a lot of thematic similarities he seems comfortable playing into. He's a little guy with a Napoleon complex who always has something to say, even when others want him to shut up. Again he finds himself in the role of motor-mouthed pal, but what's surprising is how good he is with Hall. The give and take between them is flawless, a joy to watch, and they have real spark as a romantic pair. It's hard to believe Hall is the same actress who played second fiddle to Anna Faris in Scary Movie all those years ago. She's improved by leaps and bounds and is as sexy as she is hilarious. It's the best overall performance Hall and Hart have ever given and hopefully we get to see more of them together soon. How about a Bernie and Joan spinoff? There probably weren't a lot of people clamoring for an About Last Night remake, but this one is fresh enough to hold up well on its own. About Last Night has a lot of laughs, a little bit of spice, and will make for a great date movie this Valentine's Day.