Friday, February 14, 2014
Movie Review - About Last Night (Black History Month)
I realize that Kevin Hart is the "star" of this movie. He got top billing, but my experience of this film would have been a thousand times better if his character were not in it after the opening sequence or not in it at all, and I am not just mimicking the hate-love relationship that he has with co-star Regina Hall. No, I in fact hate-hate him in this movie. His character is just a tiny ball of homophobia, misogyny, loud and annoying obnoxiousness, and it baffles me how the other lead male character could possibly be friends with him, let alone spend more than two seconds in his presence.
Kevin Hart plays Bernie, a salesman at a restaurant supply company. Michael Ealy (Barbershop and Think Like a Man) plays Danny, another salesman at the same company and best friends with Bernie. One night, Bernie and Danny go to Broadway Bar in downtown Los Angeles to meet Bernie's girlfriend Joan, played by Regina Hall (Scary Movie and The Best Man), as well as Joan's best friend, Debbie, played by Joy Bryant (Antwone Fisher and Parenthood). On the way there, Bernie tells Danny about the night that he spent with Joan. At the same time, Joan tells Debbie about the same night. Each give their version of events, which includes graphic detail of the sexual activity.
All of this is to set up the introduction of Danny to Debbie and Debbie to Danny. They realize they have some things in common and they hit it off. What they realize they have in common are two loud and annoying friends. Both of whom get drunk, insult their friends and then stumble off to have sex, leaving Danny and Debbie alone. After this scene, I wish Bernie and Joan were never seen again. I suppose writer Leslye Headland and director Steve Pink felt like they needed something funny or otherwise totally ridiculous to which to cut as a way of advancing the Danny and Debbie romance, but every time Hart appeared on screen and opened his mouth, it was like nails to a chalkboard.
I will say that like Marlon Wayans in A Haunted House (2013) this movie seems more to be a vehicle for the comedian to show off his naked body. I do like these mainstream films that prove that black men can be portrayed as sex positive beings. I won't say that I minded seeing Hart's totally-muscular, naked, 5-foot-4 frame every other scene whether he's finding more comfortable sexual positions with Hall or his Halloween costume is that of a Chippendales dancer or "Magic Mike." I would have thought it was perfect if it weren't for the fact that his having to talk killed any and all appeal.
I even think he gives Ealy a run for his money. Ever since Ealy's appearance opposite Halle Berry in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Ealy has forever been cemented as a black sex symbol. However, Hart definitely has the looks to be considered the same. It's just his personality creates the kind of wall that will block him. The Wayans brothers have proved that black comedians can cross-over and be considered sex symbols, but the Wayans' style of humor isn't as abrasive as Hart's.
It's why I couldn't buy Hart's monologue at the end where he for a brief second has to be sensitive. He's so abrasive and course throughout the entire film that his moment of empathy or sympathy comes through as so false. Hall is equally so. Her character's friendship with Bryant's is understandable tough love that sometimes just goes too far.
Hall has appeared along side Hart now in five movies. This is perhaps the first time the two have been love interests to one another. The pairing perhaps works to garner laughs, but was ultimately a distraction from the main plot. It also marks the second time the two of them have appeared in a film that is a predominantly-black-cast remake of a film that previously starred an all-white cast. The first was Death at a Funeral (2010).
The plot is the ups and downs of the relationship between Danny and Debbie. I think Ealy and Bryant have enough charisma and chemistry to carry this film all by themselves. Both are funny and heart-warming that the cutting back-and-forth to what Bernie and Joan were doing dragged the film.
I also thought it was silly when two characters are seen watching the film About Last Night (1987) with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe on TV and not have it be referenced at any other time afterward. It was just weirdly meta or anachronistic.
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 40 mins.