You’d think that given how busy movie theaters are with dating couples during Valentine’s Day weekend that the studios would offer better choices, but as you can see from this post , it is a lousy weekend for movies. We’re mostly given pathetic, conventional rom coms manufactured by heartless assholes looking to capitalize on sad sacks who haven’t got anything better to do on the holiday. In fact, the two “best” films to open around Valentine’s Day during the last decade were Hitch in 2005 and Definitely, Maybe in 2008.
About Last Night is better than both of them. That’s not exactly high praise, but the film — a remake of a 1986 movie with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore — is credibly entertaining and arguably better than the original, thanks in large part to Regina Hall and Kevin Hart, who is schizophrenically great or terrible, depending on the film. This is Hart’s best turn since Think Like a Man, which boasts three of the same leads as About Last Night, and it’s clear that Hart’s strength is as the scene-stealing, nasty-freaky best friend to Michael Ealy characters in rom coms (they will reteam again in Think Like a Man Too later this year). It’s not a bad niche, if you can get it.
There’s nothing particularly unconventional about About Last Night, either. It tracks the relationships of Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Hall) — who have some of the best onscreen hate f*ck chemistry you’ll ever witness — and Debbie (Joy Bryant) and Danny (Ealy), a more conventional couple going through all the traditional stages of a typical relationship. Ealy and Bryant are tremendously good-looking people, and they have decent chemistry, but despite filling the standard leading rom-com roles, their half of the film works best as a contrast to the romance between Bernie and Joan, who are lively, filthy, foul-mouthed subversions.
The comedy is broad, but like good stand-up material, there’s enough truth in it to give it an edge. Hart and Hall bring the comedy to life, Ealy brings the soulful eyes, and Bryant brings the impeccable smile. Working from a script from Leslye Headland (Terriers, The Bachelorette), Steve Pink (High Fidelity, Hot Tub Time Machine) gives the film enough heart to make you invest in the characters, but keeps About Last Night from veering into overly sentimental, achy-gum territory. Pink is smart to focus more on the comedy side of the rom-com equation than the romantic side. It’s a fun and funny movie, and maybe the first Valentine’s Day weekend romantic comedy in years I wouldn’t be embarrassed to take a date to.