MOVIE REVIEW

‘About Last Night’: Raunchy fun with Kevin Hart and Regina Hall | 2½ stars

Updated: 2014-02-13T22:06:07Z

By DAVID FRESE

The Kansas City Star

Regina Hall is something else.

A veteran of more than 20 films since 1999, she trades blows with frenetic comic Kevin Hart in “About Last Night.” Insult after insult. Slam after slam. Their scenes as on-again, off-again lovers Joan and Bernie make the film worth the ticket price.

Unfortunately, Hall and Hart aren’t playing the main characters — they’re the sidekicks. And the leads — Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant — are little more than eye candy.

“About Last Night” is dirty, sexy and, for the most part, a lot of fun. It’s based on the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore film of the same name, itself adapted from the David Mamet play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” This update strays from the original’s script and location (it’s in L.A.), but not the situation: four young adults talk — and talk and talk — about sex and love and relationships.

The film opens with Bernie telling his friend Danny (Ealy) about his sordid encounter with Joan. This is interwoven with Joan relating her version of the night to her friend Debbie (Bryant). Because they’re the stereotypical rom-com crazy couple, Bernie and Joan introduce Danny and Debbie, who become the stereotypical serious couple.

And are they ever serious.

The evolution of Danny and Debbie’s relationship is supposed to be the narrative through-line. But while Ealy and Bryant are very pretty people, their characters are as milquetoast as they come.

What Debbie does besides fall in love isn’t exactly clear. She likes Thanksgiving and she can’t handle her weed — we learn that much. Otherwise, she’s just mooning over Danny. Danny, meanwhile, is a struggling salesman who covers for his deadbeat customers more than he should and gets a little surly when work goes sour.

We don’t know that much more about Joan and Bernie, except they’re wild in the sack and occasionally hateful out of it. But Hart and Hall go at it so hard verbally that you cannot wait until they are on screen together again.

The film was directed by Steve Pink, who helmed the equally filthy but criminally underrated “Hot Tub Time Machine.” In “About Last Night,” he mostly frames the actors individually and then stitches the scenes together. While this is usually bothersome in other films, the editing here gives the dialogue more breathing room than your average Mamet screenplay without losing any of its zing.

But be forewarned: If the marketing leads you to believe this is a sugary romance, it’s not. It earns its “R” with a lot of sex and language that’s a couple of steps beyond “The Hangover.”

“About Last Night” is almost really good. While the central relationship isn’t all it could have been, Hall and Hart make it worth enduring.

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