Wednesday, February 19, 2014

About Last Night

I'm frequently asked for a recommendation for a good date movie, and too often have to point folks to titles on DVD. Not right now. "About Last Night" is a terrific date movie for all audiences, sexy, sweet, and, thanks to a gem of a performance by Regina Hall, often riotously funny.

Hall plays Joan, a dental hygienist, involved in a white-hot love-hate relationship with Kevin Hart's Bernie, who works with his best friend Danny (Michael Ealy) at a restaurant supplier. Joan's BF is the smart and career-oriented Debbie (Joy Bryant), who meets Danny on a double date with Bernie and Joan. They begin to fall for each other while their loudmouth pals are too drunk to notice. Eventually, she moves into his place, while Joan and Bernie break up and get back together again and again.

Not all of "About Last Night" works. There are moments - several involving Bernie and Danny's stammering and terminally unhip white boss (Joe Lo Truglio) -- where the silliness crashes into stupidity. But the relationship between Bryant and Ealy - both adorable and reserved - feels genuine. And the one between Hart and Hall is comic gold. Hart's working a ton right now - "Grudge Match" and "Ride Along" within the past couple months - and he's fine. But the movie belongs to Hall as Joan, snarky and self-centered one minute, unabashedly sexual the next. I laughed almost the whole time she was onscreen.

Just the way she tosses off a line like, "This is Bernie. He suffers from gingivitis due to a lack of flossing," and five minutes later puts on a giant chicken head (Debbie walks in on her and Bernie "plucking and fucking") shows a gameness that leaves me wanting to see more of what she can do. Much of the material here is raw, but in the hands of Hart and especially Hall it's the humor that comes through rather than the vulgarity. If another actress gives a better comic performance this year, we're in for a treat.

"About Last Night" is also the first major studio movie to be shot entirely in L.A.'s revitalized downtown (all within walking distance of its central location at 6th and Main), and it looks great. Director Steve Pink is to be commended.

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