About Last Night Blu-ray Review: Taking It Personally

I’ve come to the realization that romantic-comedies are now made about and aimed at people who hate relationships. Maybe couples today just want a place to go to complain about how awful relationships are and vent through the avatar of Kevin Hart. I’m starting to miss the romantic comedies that thought relationships were a positive thing to be desired. I was never a huge fan of Nora Ephron’s movies but at least her point was that it’s good to meet the man or woman of your dreams. This must be why I’m single. Who wants to be with a guy who looks forward to the complications a significant other will add to my life? Why can’t you complain your girlfriend, Fred?

I don’t really remember the original movie with Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins and James Belushi, and I’m unfamiliar with David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago. This incarnation of About Last Night stars Michael Ealy and Kevin Hart as Danny and Bernie respectively, two barhopping single buddies. They meet up with Bernie’s latest hook up Joan (Regina Hall) and Danny falls for Joan’s roommate Debbie (Joy Bryant). While Danny and Debbie court, Bernie and Joan have a debaucherous fling. By the time Debbie and Danny get serious, Bernie and Joan have broken up and hate women/men respectively so they’re discouraging their best friends’ from having a positive relationship.

Original Review: William Bibbiani calls About Last Night “a spot on, intelligent, witty, romantic and sexy dramedy.”

This part I’m sure was based on Mamet’s concept. About Last Night is and was about friends influencing your relationship with all the baggage they bring. The fact that it fits in the current rom-com trend is what’s bothering me. We are no longer rooting for well-adjusted people to see through their friends’ bad advice and work things out. We are cheering on the assholes who say, “Relationships suck! Women are too clean! Stay out drinking with us! Why would you want to go back to a loving home, Fred? I mean, Danny.”

I don’t relate to the relationships in About Last Night because when I’ve been in relationships, I’ve never had a problem making time to spend with my platonic friends too. If anything, my girlfriend and I struggle to make the time we want to spend alone together, busy work and life schedules being what they are. My friends want me to spend time with my significant other. If they didn’t, they would not be my friends. That would be a valid point of view for a movie, that true friends are the ones who have your best interests at heart, but About Last Night doesn’t have the balls to question the friendships. I can relate to being peer pressured to stay out late drinking more, but I consider that a bad thing. The victory is resisting that pressure.

Exclusive Video Interview: Kevin Hart & Regina Hall talk about stretching the limits of romantic comedies.

The asshole friends are complete hypocrites too. Joan and Bernie end up doing exactly what they condemned Debbie and Danny for, and I think the movie knows this. It’s not played as the reveal of the true insecurity that motivates Bernie and Joan’s behavior, which it is. It’s played more as: not only should you follow the role models of people in unhealthy relationships, but you should also take their lead and betray your core values while you’re at it.

The relationship “problems” on display are totally superficial too. Things like using a coaster, hanging curtains, social circles defined by working or investing, jealousy when Danny encounters an ex in an irrationally contrived situation. If she’s passed out drunk and you don’t know her current address, of course you have to bring her home to your apartment while your live-in girlfriend is out of town. What else could you possibly do in that situation? It all boils down to you’re either in an antagonistic relationship or a passive-aggressive one. Guess which couple is which?

Exclusive Interview: Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant talk about cosplaying as Ike and Tina Turner.

About Last Night also left me with an ugly feeling with some of its offensive humor. I’m not especially sensitive to material, but the movie seemed to go out of its way to make antisemitic and homophobic jokes. Then it really goes the extra mile to work in a joke about a suspected transgender character who only appears in one scene to be the butt of this joke. This type of comedy can work in the hands of filmmakers who know it’s inappropriate, but About Last Night is taking the characters’ side. When you orchestrate the script just to include a joke about a group of people still suffering forms of persecution, you just show me where you’re coming from, man. These jokes may have all been in the original. I’m not saying it was okay then either.

I suppose About Last Night is accurate about how our culture interacts now. Sarcasm is embraced, sincerity is ridiculed, playful deception is encouraged. In the case of About Last Night, sarcasm isn’t funny either. Even if the jokes killed, I would feel uneasy about endorsing modes of communication where you actually avoid getting to know somebody and just compete to see who’s the most indifferent or disgusted. It’s all true, I experience it when I go out and I do my best to avoid it. I hope that being sincere will make me stand out, at least to the other sincere people floating adrift out there in a sea of sarcasm. Maybe I’m reviewing real life more than a movie, but I actually hold movies to higher standards. An artist can either observe a phenomenon or ridicule it, but About Last Night just substitutes it for jokes. I mean, Hart was talking a lot in this movie and I can’t really remember anything he said, except that he lied about being Jewish and thought Ealy’s character was acting gay.

Framing the story with the seasons is surely a device of the original, but it’s just lame. Spoiler alert. Winter is when bad stuff happens. Danny’s job involves working for a company that wants to cut off the local business for falling behind on payments. The solution to this is a stupid business plan, because money fixes everything. There is a “surprise” reveal that I was sure had to be making fun of the character keeping the secret, because it was so obvious what was going on. No, it’s played as a legitimate surprise. Only one of the characters was onto it. Maybe it really was a surprise in the play or the ’86 movie.

I honestly wouldn’t have watched About Last Night on my own. It looked like the usual “Men are like this, women are like that” stereotypes I find so distasteful. I only gave it a chance because so many people said such nice things about it, and it turned out to be even worse than I imagined. I know it’s supposed to be about the pros and cons of relationships, but even the pros are repulsive in this movie. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.


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