About Last Night
Directed by Steve Pink. Starring Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant, Adam Rodriguez, Paula Patton, Christopher McDonald, Joe Lo Truglio. (2014, R, 110 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Feb. 14, 2014
This second adaptation of David Mamet’s 1974 play Sexual Perversity in Chicago – sanded down in 1986 as About Last Night … – moves the action to Los Angeles and reinstates the sexual perversity with gleeful abandon for a talk-heavy, hard-R comedy about hooking up and settling down.
The film begins with the postmortem on a one-night stand, as chipper horndog Bernie (Hart) delivers the blow-by-blow to his best friend Danny (Ealy). Bernie’s version is crosscut with his hookup partner Joan’s (Hall) own account, as told to her roommate Debbie (Bryant). There are discrepancies, but also ding-ding-ding, cross-the-aisle moments of concurrence, in a clever establishment of what will be a continuing theme: how rare it is for two lovers to be on the same page.
Bernie and Joan are both outlandish characters – vulgar, prone to hysterics, equally repelled and wild with lust for the other – while Danny and Debbie, who fall into their own relationship, provide a more grounded, heartfelt platform to explore the complications that come with cohabitation. There are two different tracks of movies traveling in parallel here – a broad sex comedy and a sweeter-tempered, traditionally plotted romantic comedy – and it’s a hallmark of how exceptionally well-cast this thing is that the divergent styles are not a misstep but a selling point.
The script is by Leslye Headland, who wrote and directed the snaggletoothed Bachelorette; it’s an intriguing what-if to wonder if her direction might have toughened the film up some, evened out what’s a slight bias of perspective toward the men. (Hot Tub Time Machine’s Steve Pink directs, with a real eye for downtown-L.A.-loft porn but also a bit of a bungling of the film’s exit shot.) About Last Night is essentially one long conversation that shifts locations from a bar to a ballpark to a swimming pool, and so on, and only the surface is scratched on certain ideas and subplots. Ultimately, the filmmakers are only interested in exploring the sexual itch, and that itch gets scratched six ways to Sunday. A perfectly executed punch line will make up for almost anything – not that About Last Night has much to apologize for: It’s the funniest, friskiest date movie in a good long while.