RATING: 1.5 stars (out of 4)
Awful relationships are colorblind, as are awful remakes.
About Last Night continues the trend of 1980s classics reduxes with black leads. The Karate Kid and Can’t Buy Me Love have already gotten the treatment, to a fair amount of success, but this do-over of a fairly forgotten 1986 romcom feels forced and sad at every turn. A talented cast gasps for air, choking on a limp script that lacks wit or joy. It’s a movie about miserable people who crack miserable jokes and deny themselves happiness and fulfillment for no good reason. It might as well be about movie critics.
The movie is bad enough to make David Mamet, who wrote the razor-sharp play that inspired the original movie, roll over in his piles of money.
Surging star Kevin Hart acquits himself best, never missing an opportunity to take scenes off on his bizarre, sexually depraved tangents, but this is a movie he’ll look back on and regret like an drunken one-night stand. He plays Bernie, a freaky, sad-sack womanizer who falls for Joan (Regina Hall), who matches his naughty tastes lick for lick.
Also riding the relationship carousel are Bernie and Joan’s BFFs, miserable businessman Danny (Michael Ealy) and miserable businesswoman Debbie (Joy Bryant), who share about five minutes of adorable romance before moving in together and hating each other.
The movie focuses on how deranged and unsatisfying relationships can be, alternating between peeks into both couples’ lives. There are plenty of opportunities for laughs in unfulfilling sex, infidelity suspicions and romantic malaise, but the script sticks to cliched one-liners and hackneyed banter that seems ripped from a 1990s WB sitcom.
It hurts that this movie sucks, just because of the level of talent involved and the obviousness of all the different ways it could have gone to stay relevant and interesting. Its characters are idiots who make poor decisions that jeopardize their happiness, which would be fine if it were all in the name of setting up stingingly funny laughs. The stings are there, but laughs didn’t make the cut.
It doesn’t help that the best chemistry among the cast is between Hart and Ealy, who get too little screen time together as each other’s wingmen/cockblockers. We’re supposed to root for them to sustain their relationships, but I just wanted them to be single so they’d have nothing better to do than pathetically prowl nightclubs to see how many creative ways they could be shot down. Bryant and Hall are also better together than they are with the dudes, sniping at each other’s shortcomings in a passive-aggressive, sisterly manner.
The heaviest insult I can lay at this movie’s feet is that I wish it had been written and directed by Tyler Perry. He may be a mediocre talent, but his movies are at least always funny. Sometimes intentionally, many times not. All four characters could have used some scolding from Perry’s drag-dressed, stereotypical icon Madea. The same goes for the other two people who were with me in the movie theater, who could have found far better uses of their time and money.
Starring Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. Written by Leslye Headland, based on a screenplay by Tim Kazurinski and Denise DeClue, which is based on a David Mamet play. Directed by Steve Pink. Rated R. 100 minutes.