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'About Last Night' lacks both romance and comedy

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 20:02

The central dynamic of “About Last Night” is juxtaposition. The film focuses on two different couples whose relationship have opposite foundations, played by two sets of actors with contrasting styles of humor. The film balances its pairings well, except for the most important one: romance and comedy.

A remake of the 1986 film of the same name, “About Last Night” stars Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant as a couple giving commitment an attempt. They were introduced by their respective friends played by Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, whose on-and-off relationship is built on sex and alcohol. We follow them through a year of their lives and the ups and downs of their relationships.

Hart has become known for his sugar-rush delivery and he is clearly inserting shades of himself in his performance. This is the funniest I have seen him. Hall makes an excellent pairing by making anything she says in a loud volume instantly funny. Her and Hart’s over the top arguments, which include one on how to position themselves for sex, are the movie’s best moments. Ealy and Bryant work as straight men in scenes with all four of them, but they don’t play off of each other very well.

After a strong opening 15 minutes, we are treated to a half hour of Ealy and Bryant falling in love, and it’s dull. The two, with personalities like flat Diet Coke, have little screen chemistry and their conversations go no deeper than coffee shop banter. I’d like to give an example, but I honestly don’t remember any; they were that trite. The direction takes no risks and assumes showing two people snuggling in bed will convince us they’re in love. The scenes of their relationship falling apart work better. They do a good job at portraying how slight mistakes can lead to big consequences, and the domino effect of two people who are constantly irritable with each other. But because I never cared about them as a couple to begin with, these are equally uninteresting.

The biggest mistake “About Last Night” makes is focusing on the wrong couple. Hart and Hall’s completely physical relationship at first seems shallow and right to play second fiddle. But once I saw how it turned out in the third act, it becomes a little fascinating and the film leaves some major questions unanswered. It’s also a problem that when greeted with Hart’s caricature style of comedy, shifting the tone to one of grounded realism for the scenes with Ealy and Bryant doesn’t serve the story well.

“About Last Night” seems like a good movie that took a bad movie under its wing hoping to overpower its listless counterpart with boisterous hilarity. But somewhere down the line, the bad movie got overconfident and shoved the good movie off center stage. What remains is an average affair with enough laughs to keep me in my seat, but with long stretches of banality that made me want to fall asleep in it. 

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