March 20, 2014 Leave a comment
Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) have just had sex, and we know this because they have each described the previous night’s encounter to their respective friends in excruciating detail. Having arranged to meet again, the pair bring those friends along for support. While Bernie and Regina excuse themselves for a quicky in the toilets, Danny (Michael Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant) hit it off unexpectedly and decide to leave early. As Bernie and Regina tire of one another, eventually developing a mutual hatred of the other, Danny and Debbie fall in love, with the former eventually asking the latter to live with him. It’s no happily ever after, however, and they too soon start to grow apart.
Romantic comedies are sooo last century. You might have noticed that since the noughties cinema has entered a new phase that could accurately be described as the filthies, with a spate of 21st Century sex comedies designed to cast an ultraviolet light on human relationships. No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits were mere foreplay, with That Awkward Moment finally taking things to fourth base, behind the bike shed or wherever the kids are doing it these days. That Awkward Moment, you may remember, was irredeemably awful.
Enter About Last Night, a spiritual successor to That Awkward Moment from the director of Hot Tub Time Machine and starring Brenda from the Scary Movie franchise. Yes, it really is as bad as it sounds. Steve Pink’s About Last Night – a remake of the 1986 film of the same name – is the story of two couples, neither one of which it is possible to care for. It all starts with Hart (the pain in the stomach and the ass from Ride Along) and Hall (of Brenda fame), both of whom provoke the sort of reaction usually reserved for crying babies on aeroplanes. As characters, Bernie and Joan are completely insufferable, each ostensibly intended as comic relief but really just there to outdo the other with acts of the utmost misogyny and loutishness.
The scenes between Ealy and Bryant aren’t nearly as painful to watch, and credit where credit’s due, they do attempt to portray a semi-realistic romance, where trivial disagreements fester and ferment until they seem too entrenched and pervasive to be ever truly resolved. Such films are by no means unfamiliar with falling-outs, but they are usually saved until the end of the second act for the greatest dramatic impact. And there’s a reason for that: nobody wants to watch two people fall out of love for an hour and a half. When you’re not being repulsed by Bernie and Joan, you’re being bored senseless by Danny and Debbie. The film, also based on David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, aims for insight and candour, but instead comes across as simply crass and immature.
Romantic and sexual comedies really aren’t so different. Love will always triumph, it’s just that you might not always care that it does. About Last Night — split handily into sections so that you’re all too aware of how many months of prolonged misery you have left to endure — is a horrible movie. One decent gag aside (in which a Korean beautician rightfully reprimands Brenda from Scary Movie for being a racist wretch) it is a joyless, witless and unlikeable ordeal that is every bit as detestable as That Awkward Moment.