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Movie review: 'About Last Night' your best bet for Valentine's Day date night

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About Last Night

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

About Last Night (opening today) is based on the 1986 romantic comedy, About Last Night..., which itself is based on the David Mamet play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago." Most remakes are unnecessary and even unwanted, and this new incarnation perhaps fits those bills. But this updated version of About Last Night is so damn funny, you'll be quick to forgive it.

From the opening moments, we are greeted with rapid-fire comedy riddled with raunchiness. Bernie (Kevin Hart) hooks up with the equally zany Joan (Regina Hall) and a second date is lined up, but this time with the comfort of a friend in tow. Bernie brings along his handsome, "normal" friend Danny (Michael Ealy) and Joan brings her down-to-earth gal pal Debbie (Joy Bryant). Suddenly, the movie doesn't seem to be about Bernie and Joan, but about the chemistry brewing between their wing-persons.

Danny and Debbie's budding relationship is at the center of the story, but woven in and out is the crazy, over-the-top and down-right hilarious roller-coaster-ride-of-a-couple, Bernie and Joan. When Danny and Debbie run into problems, Bernie and Joan are at their best. When things go well for Danny and Debbie, Bernie and Joan couldn't be further apart.

The end result is a surprisingly effective romantic comedy that is most effective as a laugh-out-loud adult comedy. Though Kevin Hart has had a few swings and misses as of late (say, Grudge Match), everybody knows and expects him to bring the laughs. But Regina Hall is a revelation. The two acted in the film Think Like A Man, although never together. Here, Hall goes blow for blow with one of the leading comics in Hollywood and comes away stealing the show.

Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy are also perfectly matched. Both have incredible charisma and they end up being a joy to watch.

It comes as quite a shock that, when all is said and done, the "comic relief" pairing of Kevin Hart and Regina Hall ends up being the couple that we care the most about. It's a testament to their very effective comic performances, not to mention their undeniable on-screen chemistry.

It's not that we don't care about Danny and Debbie, but there story is one for the movies. About Last Night is structurally your average romantic comedy, but it rises above mediocrity on the strength of the performances and the amount of laughs per minute. It's more appropriate to refer to this film more of a comic romance that a romantic comedy, since the comedy leads the way.

I could have done without a subplot surrounding Danny trying to save his pop's old establishment, an Irish bar ran by his dad's pal Casey (Christopher McDonald), but apparently that comes from the source material. There are enough tired trappings in this film that it should have been enough to make it not work at all. But again, laughs seem to make the harshest of critics a bit more forgiving.

About Last Night is perfect date-night material and a smart Valentine's Day release. If nothing else, it will have you Google-ing Regina Hall's name as you exit the theater.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated PG

Starring: Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Christopher McDonald, Joe Lo Truglio, Adam Rodriguez, Paula Patton

Written by Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), based on the screenplay by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue

Based on the play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" by David Mamet

Directed by Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine, Accepted)

Opens locally on Friday, Feb 14, 2014 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment, airing at 10:30 p.m. EST every Sunday, on MYTV20 in Detroit.

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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
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