Sometimes, movies get made out of artistic desire. Sometimes they get made out of pure greed and marketing opportunities; sometimes to stroke an actor or director’s ego.
The 400-Word Review: About Last Night
By Sean Collier
February 18, 2014
Other times, movies get made to adequately serve one functional purpose. About Last Night is just such a movie. See, lots of people go to theaters on Valentine’s Day, and they need an inoffensive, unchallenging and utterly palatable flick to affirm their current relationship status. And it damn well better be bland.
This year, an unusual glut of V-Day options are crowding the marketplace (perhaps owing to the holiday actually falling on a Friday in 2014), with Endless Love, Winter’s Tale, That Awkward Moment and Labor Day all angling for the dollars of daters, too. About Last Night, it seems, aims to be the most middle-of-the-road among that roster. In fact, it’s so benign, it doesn’t even really have a plot.
Bernie (Kevin Hart) is dating Joan (Regina Hall). Bernie’s friend Danny (Michael Ealy) meets Joan’s friend Debbie (Joy Bryant). Both couples try to work things out.
Really, that’s it. Nothing more to report.
Okay, okay, fine, there’s some whiff of a subplot involving a bar owned by Danny’s late father’s best friend (Christopher McDonald) having financial problems, and the slightest hint of commentary about adult friendships. But those asides are pure window dressing: About Last Night is simply a highlight reel of important relationship moments, presented free of comment. You know those videos that were going around a few weeks ago where your Facebook put together a retrospective of your important Facebook moments? About Last Night is a feature version of that.
Hart and Hall are the more engaging of the couples (a shame, since they’re given supporting roles); both are funny, and their arguments and bedroom exploits provide the film’s only memorable moments. Bryant, a series regular on “Parenthood,” is likable enough (if not much of a comedic performer); Ealy, however, is the film’s anchor. Neither particularly funny nor engaging, the fact that he is ostensibly the central character is a nearly catastrophic flaw.
But About Last Night is just barely amusing enough to register as an acceptable date-night compromise, particularly on romance’s big night. Perhaps it’s a success, then: acceptable seems to have been the target. As for Valentine’s Day, who says you have to pick a romance? Be honest: your night will be better served by The Lego Movie.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark