DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

About Last Night (2014) Blu-ray Review

About Last Night (2014) movie poster About Last Night

Theatrical Release: February 14, 2014 / Running Time: 100 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Steve Pink / Writers: Leslye Headland (screenplay); Tim Kazurinsky, Denise DeClue (1986 screenplay); David Mamet (play Sexual Perversity in Chicago)

Cast: Kevin Hart (Bernie Litko), Michael Ealy (Danny Martin), Regina Hall (Joan), Joy Bryant (Debbie Sullivan), Christopher McDonald (Casey McNeil), Adam Rodriguez (Steven Thaler), Joe Lo Truglio (Ryan Keller), Paula Patton (Alison), Terrell Owens (Himself), Catherine Shu (Asian Manicurist), David Greenman (Isaac), Bryan Callen (Trent)

Buy About Last Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

About Last Night has had a strange evolution. In 1976, future Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet
reworked a student play he had recently written at Vermont's Goddard College as Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Ten years later, the acclaimed off-Broadway play became About Last Night..., a romantic dramedy starring Brat Packers Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. Nearly thirty years later, that film has been updated and reimagined (sans titular ellipsis) as a comedy vehicle for four African-American actors.

It's tough to comprehend the writing of the esteemed, profane David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) winding up in the hands of the Brat Pack or that not particularly well-loved '80s movie becoming yet another showcase for rising funnyman Kevin Hart. But, here we are. If you missed this remake in its profitable Valentine's Day theatrical release, you can now catch it on Blu-ray and DVD.

Debbie (Joy Bryant) and Danny (Michael Ealy), seen here with their dog Pacino, are one of two couples whose relationships are the focus of 2014's "About Last Night."

Set in present-day Los Angeles, the film looks at two relationships that begin casually at the Broadway Bar. Best friends and fellow restaurant supplies salesmen Danny Martin (Michael Ealy) and Bernie Litko (Hart) find themselves on a non-date double date with friends/roommates Debbie (Joy Bryant) and Joan (Regina Hall). By this point, Bernie and Joan have already enjoyed challenging but agreeable drunken sex. Danny and Debbie spend their first night together too.

The two relationships, which all four parties are reluctant to identify as such, take wildly different trajectories. Bernie and Joan have sexual chemistry but are always bickering at one another and soon break up. Danny and Debbie disagree on many things but enjoy each other's company thoroughly. Before long, Debbie is moving out on Joan and into Danny's bachelor pad. The romance seems to be going well, until a couple of nights apart pull at the seams and prompt them to re-evaluate.

About Last Night might look like a spin-off to narrow the small two-year gap between Ealy, Hart and Hall's Think Like a Man and its imminent sequel. But this differs from those ensemble comedies adapted from a Steve Harvey self-help book. The most dramatic departure may be the R rating. If MPAA ratings aren't something you give much thought, you may not realize it, but, these days, comedies with predominantly black casts are almost always rated PG-13. That may simply be a product of Tyler Perry having the market cornered. However, the rare production not penned by Perry typically adheres to that standard, with few exceptions (e.g. The Best Man Holiday).

Though his rising star gets him top billing, Kevin Hart has a secondary role as big talking Bernie Litko, who dresses like Magic Mike for Halloween. In a break from tradition, Christopher McDonald plays a good guy, as generous to a fault bar owner Casey McNeil.

About earns its R rating many times over with its abundant profanity and frank sexuality. There's a lot of sex, both showing and telling. The frequent F-bombs may be truer to Mamet's original play than the 1986 film (I can't say, having seen neither).
This rendition leaves room for brief but unmistakable homage to both previous incarnations. It also finds a somewhat distinct rhythm. It's clear that for once Hart is delivering someone else's dialogue and not just improvising. If the dialogue sometimes sounds unnatural, that could be a product of screenwriter Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), a white woman, writing for black characters and half the time, the opposite sex. There's a little bit of the "he said, she said" cross-cutting of Think Like... early on, but Headland's script doesn't feel as collaborative or conducive to ad-libbing as that film did.

The script also just isn't as amusing or clever. While it's admirable that About seems determined to offer a somewhat mature exploration of adult relationships, the movie falls well short of its goals. It relies on stupid, overfamiliar devices like who says "I love you" first and a pregnancy scare. In the situations it writes, like a tense Thanksgiving among friends and Danny's plan to renovate the bar of his late father's best friend (Christopher McDonald), this feels very much like a movie romcom and not something witty and relatable born out of actual relationship experiences. Further complicating matters is that none of the four leads ever completely secures our sympathy. Danny comes closest, until he needs to behave irrationally to generate conflict. The running gag of Bernie and Joan hating one another but still getting it on is never anything but abrasive. And white characters made to be the butts of throwaway jokes (like the guys' ineffectual boss played by Joe Lo Truglio, a butch replacement roommate, and random slutty women) do not play well at all.

Some may lament that black moviegoers are resigned to accept Tyler Perry and all that he brings (his drag act, religiousness, and belief in self-betterment) in order to see representations of themselves onscreen. About Last Night proves that white filmmakers, like director Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine, Accepted), are capable of something worse than Perry's rarely good brand of comedy.

Bolstered by a strong first day, About opened a robust second at the box office, ahead of the far costlier and more widely released RoboCop remake, but still far behind leggy winter hit The LEGO Movie then in its second weekend. A month before Think Too opens in theaters from the same Screen Gems label, About hit DVD and Blu-ray yesterday from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

About Last Night (2014) Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though low-budgeted for a wide release, About Last Night looks as polished and presentable as any 2014 studio film on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture stays sharp, clean and vivid throughout, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix does a perfect job of crisply distributing dialogue and music.

Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant pass time between takes in "An Un-Romantic Comedy." Adam Rodriguez doesn't get to do much in the film, but he is still asked to impart some relationship advice in this bonus feature.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray includes four featurettes, all presented in HD.

"An Un-romantic Comedy" (14:38), the only extra that's also included on the DVD version, is a general making-of piece that acknowledges its inspirations and sells its departures. The leads describe their characters and discuss their co-stars and chemistry, while we also get some glimpses behind the scenes.

"About Last Night Advice" (3:53) collects words of relationship wisdom from the lead and supporting cast.

"I Love You?" (5:39) contemplates the power shift or lack thereof involved in who utters those words first.

Real Los Angeles couples offer love advice in "Word on the Street." The Blu-ray's menu sees the poster/cover art's three pics and raises them one.

"Word on the Street" (9:04) gathers dating, relationship, and sex advice from random black couples and singles in Los Angeles.

The disc opens with Sony's "Be Moved" promo and trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, That Awkward Moment (red band), and Pompeii. The menu's Previews section holds those three trailers plus ones for The Monuments Men and Gambit. About's own trailer is sadly but typically absent.

The menu places score over a rearrangement of the cover art pictures (plus one more). Being a Sony Blu-ray, this resumes playback and supports bookmarks as well.

An insert providing your Digital HD UltraViolet/Sony Rewards code is all that joins the full color disc inside the unslipcovered, side-snapped keepcase.

The highly sexual and antagonistic relationship of Joan (Regina Hall) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) provides a contrast to the more mature focal romance.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though it doesn't seem to commit cinematic sacrilege, the new About Last Night disappoints thoroughly with its brash romantic comedy. This is destined to end up one of my least favorite films of 2014.

Sony's Blu-ray lives up to the studio's high quality standards, but isn't worthy of your time or money.

Buy About Last Night from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Kevin Hart: Think Like a Man Ride Along Grudge Match This Is the End | Regina Hall: Death at a Funeral (2010)
Michael Ealy: Last Vegas Margaret For Colored Girls FlashForward: The Complete Series
New: Her Chances Are Vampire Academy Veronica Mars The Women (1939)
Paula Patton: Jumping the Broom Swing Vote Deja Vu Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Directed by Steve Pink: Hot Tub Time Machine | Written by Steve Pink: Grosse Pointe Blank
Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? The Switch The Proposal Love Story

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed May 21, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Screen Gems, Rainforest Films, Olive Bridge Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.