Steve Pink’s About Last Night will not change the way you think about the romantic comedy. It does, however, demonstrate how clichés and conventions can be combined to create solid entertainment. That it both beat RoboCop at the box office and nearly doubled its per theater average proves that there is some cinematic justice in the world. It also establishes Kevin Hart as a bona fide draw.
Despite a fairly predictable plot, the film offers a few surprises. It is a frank, very adult romantic comedy that leans heavily on dialogue, which feels rare. I also never imagined that a movie propped up by its writing (the film is a remake of a 1986 film that originated from the David Mamet play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago) would finally make Hart palatable for me. With his characteristic loud, fast-talking schtick reined in, Hart’s knack for comedic timing comes through. It certainly helps that director Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) and screenwriter Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) keep the lines coming and the film moving along.
While Hart gets top billing, he’s really in a supporting role. Michael Ealy (Last Vegas) plays the lead as the recently heartbroken Danny, who finds himself slipping into a serious relationship with Debbie (Joy Bryant, Hit and Run). The film follows the arc of the two over the course of a year — from new love to frustration and fighting. Tangentially, there’s Danny’s best friend, Bernie (Hart), and his dysfunctional, adversarial relationship with Debbie’s best friend, Joan (Regina Hall, The Best Man Holiday). The film never strays from the typical rom-com diagram, and that’s what keeps About Last Night from being truly special. But what keeps it from being something terrible is the strength of the cast (everyone has chemistry together) and the punch of the dialogue. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make an entertaining movie, which seems to be About Last Night’s sole concern. Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Playing at Carmike 10.