Thursday, 29 June 2017

BITE-SIZED REVIEW: About Last Night (Steve Pink, 2014)

Sometimes you watch one movie on Netflix, and you get hit with a bunch of crappy recommendations. Other times you get something decent. A remake of the 1986 movie, which is itself based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, About Last Night stars the too-good-looking-to-be-real Michael Ealy, comedian Kevin Hart, Regina Hall and Joy Bryant.

Two best friends, Bernie (Hart) and Danny (Ealy) become involved with another pair of female besties, Joan (Hall) and Debbie (Bryant). Bernie and Joan have already hooked up and decide to bring their respective heater life partners to their follow-up date. While their relationship implodes, the seemingly more mature Danny and Debbie fall in love. But that's just the beginning...

Sometimes you watch a movie and there is one element which elevates the whole enterprise: in this case, it is Regina Hall as Joan.

From her first second onscreen to the end credits, I was wondering why Hall was not more famous. She's been around for nearly twenty years, and has never got the credit she deserves. About Last Night is worth watching just for her acerbic, whip-smart performance.

Her rapport with Kevin Hart is the best thing in this movie. Their bickering is the funniest thing in the movie. Ealy and Bryant are stuck with the more straightforward romantic subplot. They're good, but whenever Hall and Hart are onscreen, the movie is solid gold. I would love to see these two onscreen again - they need a Taming of the Shrew or His Girl Friday. This is the kind of movie where this is the most romantic line in the movie: "The only girl with low self-esteem that I wanted tonight is you." I'm not kidding.

I try to be objective with reviews but here I am totally smitten. I am completely and utterly infatuated. I spent half of this movie wishing Kevin Hart would realise how great Hall's character was, the other half wishing I could be Kevin Hart, and then spent an hour after the movie was over googling Regina Hall's current relationship status.  My dementia aside, she's just so good in this movie. I really hope she gets a proper star vehicle (or a Netflx show - THAT would be cool).

The one misstep is Paula Patton as Danny's ex. She's only in for one sequence, but but her performance is in a completely different movie. She is built up as this terrifying femme fatale, but the portrayal never really hits. She is so overblown it is hard to take her seriously. Maybe that was the intention, to show that he was building her up in his head, but Patton's performance just feels tonally out of place, too big and too silly for the style of this movie.

That aside, About Last Night is a lot of fun. It's got really good performances, a pretty involving story and plenty of jokes (largely shared between Hall and Hart). One interesting fact about this movie is the producer, Will Packer. Packer has been extremely successful at producing genre movies with African American leads. In addition to this movie, he also produced most of the Screen Gems thrillers I have previously reviewed, as well as Think Like A Man and executive-producing Straight Outta Compton. He's definitely someone to watch.

Overall, About Last Night is worth a look. There are plenty of crappy rom coms clogging up Netflix - this is not one of them.

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