Movie Review: ‘About Last Night’

Michael-Ealy-and-Kevin-Hart-in-About-Last-Night-Reviews

Film: About Last Night
Starring: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy
Directed by: Steve Pink

2014 is quickly shaping up to be the year Kevin Hart over-saturates the market.

Hitting theaters less than a month after the critically panned buddy comedy Ride Along arrived in cinemas, About Last Night reboots a classic David Mamet play in a way that departs even further from the source material than the original 1986 adaptation starring Rob Lowe. The story follows two couples who, over the course of a year, fall in and out of love (and then in love once again). One pair is rather kooky, the other is super serious, and it’s in balancing these two worlds that the film struggles the most.

Starting with the more serious pairing, Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy bring exactly what you expect to the table as new-yet-cautious lovers Debbie and Danny. They have both been hurt in the past, and now they feel like the dating world is a vast departure from the planet they current inhabit. When their best friends, both of whom happen to be rather absurd, force them together on a kinda/sorta/not really double date they unintentionally hit it off. Love soon blossoms, and the two end up falling for one another. Hard. Unfortunately, there is nothing about their romance to separate the pair from a thousand similar onscreen romances witnessed throughout cinema history. There love is surface level at best, with no defining characteristics or unique traits to sell you on its authenticity.

The other half of the About Last Night equation is, thankfully, far more entertaining. Kevin Hart has hit a point in his career where every role he takes on is essentially him being himself with a different name. He’s in the same position that Seth Rogen was two years ago, only with a major career in stand-up adding fuel to his hype, and About Last Night leans heavily on the hopes that Hart’s following will turn up at the box office to see their favorite comedian in action. To his credit, the comedy hits far more often than it misses this time around, but there is no denying who is the source of all the material.

Hart’s love interest is played by Regina Hall, who may in fact be the real highlight of this film. She has proven her abilities in the world of comedy, but rarely does she also have the chance to showcase her dramatic side to the extent shown in About Last Night. Her character does not develop nearly as much as those portrayed by Joy Bryant and Michael Ealy, but she still manages to leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

The story of Debbie and Danny treads too often in familiar territory, but the relationship between Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Hall) is another story entirely. They represent the crazy friends we all know. The people who drink hard, party harder, and fall in love the hardest. When shit hits the fan, it hits hard, and when things are good you would think you’ve never known a happier person. They’re chaos incarnate, and no matter how outrageous they behave you cannot help rooting for them to find the happiness you know they seek.

The film works best when all four leads share the screen, but those moments are few and far between after the initial setup. Debbie and Danny have drawn scenes of romance and tension, while Bernie and Joan have shorter, largely comical moments. This causes issues because the contrast between the two pairings is so vast that Bernie and Joan eventually begin to feel more like comic relief than actual people. That is, until the third act arrives and the entire focus switches to wrapping things up in a nice, predictable way.

In a time when the biggest competition in the romance genre is Endless Love and Winter’s Tale, there is no question that there are far worse ways to spend your time and money at the multiplex than seeing About Last Night. It’s the kind of film you walk out of feeling like it could have been better, but you still count yourself lucky because you realize it also could have been a lot worse. Kevin Hart has yet to reach the same comedic heights in 2014 as he has in years prior, but a strong supporting cast keeps the film from teetering too far into the realm of mediocrity.

Think of About Last Night like a blind date your good friend set you up on: Keep your expectations low and there is a decent chance you will have good time. There is also a chance you will want to run screaming from the building, but that’s just a risk you’re going to have to take.

Score: C

Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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