The original 1986 version of About Last Night is one of my favorite films of all time related to the challenges and general ups and downs of being a single man or single woman in a large city such as Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York City. Actor Rob Lowe and Actress Demi Moore played the lead characters 'Danny' and 'Debbie.' I could totally relate because at the time the movie was released, Lowe and I were roughly the same age, so I felt like the whole story was totally centered toward my generation of dating singles.
The basic set up in the original was that Danny was a handsome, charming womanizer who was accustomed to engaging in a series of one-night stands and weekend flings with a number of different women, but then he crosses paths with Debbie, and they slowly but surely make the transition from "casual sex buddies" to more of a romantic "boyfriend-girlfriend" type relationship. Danny's main struggle ... like many handsome womanizer types ... was that a part of him still wanted to "sow his wild oats" with a number of different women while another part of him was content with settling down with just one woman, namely Debbie.
Even though the original had its share of "comic relief" moments (provided primarily from Actor Jim Belushi, who played Danny's best friend Bernie and also from Actress Elizabeth Perkins who played Debbie's best friend Joan), Director Edward Zwick along with Screenwriters Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue created a film that was much more of a romantic drama than a romantic comedy. The film was an adaptation of legendary screenwriter and playwright David Mamet's stage play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
In this new 2014 remake, the character of Danny is now played by popular Actor Michael Ealy (from FOX's Almost Human) and the role of Debbie is now played by Actress Joy Bryant. And now, their best friends - Bernie and Joan - are played by box-office superstar comedian Kevin Hart and rom-com veteran Regina Hall respectively.
Plain and simple ... with all due respect to the acting talents of Bryant and Ealy ... this is Hall and Hart's movie. Director Steve Pink did a great job allowing both talented comedic performers the freedom to deviate away from the written script and just improvise certain interactions.
Speaking of improvising, I did not think there was an African-American actress who had the comedic chops and improvisational talents to hang verbally toe-to-toe with Hart, but Hall brought her A+ game to this film. Her characterization of Joan is not only highly entertaining, but I believe her role is going to resonate with a lot of women in society.
It's like this: As I alluded to above in my description of Rob Lowe as Danny, for some men (and particularly prolific womanizer types), the idea of being in a long-term monogamous relationship with one woman is just not that appealing. If you give the average womanizer a choice between having sex one-hundred times with one woman ... or having sex four times with twenty-five different women ... most 'player' types are going to choose the latter option. On the flip side, the vast majority of women are always going to lean toward a sexual relationship that is more long-term, more emotionally profound, and more monogamous.
Given this general attitude by members of each gender, this is what makes Hall and Hart's portrayal of Joan and Bernie not only laugh-out-loud funny, but also - with the exception of two or three 'over-the-top' moments - very realistic. Bernie does not want to be in a relationship, and Joan does not expect to be. The verbally raunchy pair basically start out as "casual sex buddies" who are just looking to enjoy some sexual fun when the opportunity arises. The on-screen chemistry between Hall and Hart is so dynamic that you literally want to see these two get paired up again in future romantic comedy projects.
The weakness of the story is the chemistry - or lack thereof - between Bryant and Ealy. Their characters just do not gel in a manner that really captures and holds on to your attention. The tension that ultimately develops between them seems so petty and contrived, that it almost takes away from the overall entertainment value of the movie.
I did not like the way Screenwriter Leslye Headland totally changed the backstory of Danny's character. Unlike Lowe's womanizing version of Danny, Ealy's updated version of Danny is a guy who seems to be perpetually in a state of self-pity while still adjusting to the end of his last serious relationship with his ex-girlfriend (played by Actress Paula Patton in a brief, but entertaining cameo). Ealy's Danny did not resonate with me at all in the manner that Lowe's Danny did in the original.
Minor criticisms aside, you will be thoroughly entertained by the on-again, off-again relationship between Bernie and Joan. I would give their story line five stars, and I would give the Danny-Debbie story line three stars for an overall rating of four stars.
This film opened nationwide on Friday, February 14, 2014