Cinema Review: About Last Night

1108148 - ABOUT LAST NIGHT

 

DIR: Steve Pink • WRI: Leslye Headland • PRO: Will Gluck, William Packer • DOP: Michael Barrett • ED: Tracey Wadmore-Smith, Shelly Westerman • MUS: Marcus Miller • DES: Jon Gary Steele • CAST: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant

There is a problem with movies featuring Kevin Hart. Despite not being the obvious protagonist, his miniature presence has once again proven to steal the show in this cheesy rom-com. A remake of the 1986 movie of the same name starring Demi Moore, this is a modernised and RnB-smothered Los Angeles tale of an infatuated love story without the devotion.

The scene is set for the entire movie as we are introduced to Bernie (Hart) and Danny (Ealy) in a Los Angeles Bar where they discuss sexual antics as we are made to assume that single men walk, talk and think alike five days a week, believing that their barbaric outlook on the average female is completely natural. The discussion at hand is that relating to Joan (Hall), who is having the same discussion on the flip side with best friend Debbie (Bryant). Both Joan and Debbie arrive to meet the guys in the bar as the obnoxious Bernie is hoping to pair Danny with singleton Debbie.  Danny is welcomed by Debbie’s warmness but uncomfortable in the presence of Bernie’s crude humour and his uncanny desire toward Joan; who, just like Bernie is so reprehensible, making their relationship all the more exciting and to be honest, comedic. The movie makes a balance of this variety by revealing the lust between Danny and Debbie, something he and Bernie would not condone otherwise – resulting in romance as opposed to Kevin Hart’s comedy.

Divided into three chapters (kind of) About Last Night shows the highs, the lows and the forgiveness in a relationship.  Michael Ealy gives a performance of ordinariness as the cheesy talisman. There is some chemistry between Danny and Debbie that give their bond an almost believable tale, however, the circumstance which leads to their relationship that takes place over three chapters in summer winter and spring, seem so much shorter and quite unrealistic.

There is a side story showing Danny and Bernie at work, at  an Irish bar run by Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore; I mean Casey (Christopher McDonald). If Danny’s relationship status does not make you soppy, Casey’s financial struggle is supposed to, showcasing a level of sensitivity in Danny and Bernie after all. We did not need this, but we get it anyway.

This is a cupid visionary; Danny and Debbie’s walk home leads to something so abrupt and animated, you really question how this has happened for the so-called “team player”. There are some funny scenes involved with both guys at work, but it is the unintentional scenes that are the most comedic and ridiculous – for example, when Debbie wakes up to rub Danny, only to find she is rubbing a headless pillow. Or to enforce the cheesiness, a romantic dinner goes uneaten and basically thrown onto the ground because their lust for one another calls for other things. Both characters are not likable, but not dislikable either. The endless scenes of passionate lovemaking and unnecessary cuddles accompanied by a Bruno Mars soundtrack (and more) makes you look forward to the onscreen antics and to be honest, brilliantly performed chemistry between Bernie and Joan, both of whom prove easy to like but the movie inevitably looks for sympathy in all these characters and frankly, the emotions are so fictitious that you can’t give it any.

Despite all the raunchy foreplay, About Last Night  is a film highly dependent on its dialogue, which is left mostly to Kevin Hart’s renowned showcasing of self-depreciation. Say what you will about Hart’s film choices, but he is really starting to come into his own. Those familiar with his stand-up personality will love Hart’s portrayal of a sleazy womaniser. His comedy seems well orchestrated, while his unconscious response to various situations are recognised and appreciated. You get the feeling he is supposed to be playing second fiddle to Michael Ealy’s character, yet the longer the film goes on the more it wants to centre on Kevin Hart.

The saviour, but not quite, Kevin Hart’s wacky character does exactly what the audience may acquire from the comedy side of things. However, he could not save the movie’s romantic integrity which proves tedious the longer it goes on.

Gerard Dodd

16 (SeeIFCO for details)
100 mins

About Last Night is released on 21st March 2014

About Last Night – Official Website

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine

DIR: Steve Pink • WRI: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris • PRO: John Cusack, Grace Loh, Matt Moore, John Morris • DOP: Jack N. Green • ED: George Folsey Jr., James Thomas • DES: Bob Ziembicki • CAST: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry

As far as proverbs go, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, is a goodie. It’s a proverb rich with open-mindedness and a good mantra for day-to-day life. However, another goodie is ‘never say never’, and in line with this, Hot Tub Time Machine is exactly what its title suggests.

The film begins in the present and introduces us to three middle-aged friends who have grown apart and are each unhappy with their lives due to a divorce, failed music career and suicidal tendencies. They decide to return to the ski resort where they had their ’80’s heyday for some good old-fashioned male bonding and to show the nephew of Adam (John Cusack) how cool they used to be. The resort isn’t what they remember but thanks to a (spoiler alert, but not really) hot tub time machine they’re transported back to 1986 and are in for one crazy weekend!

As far as premises go for this genre, it’s quite a strong one. Hot Tub… looked promising as a successor to last year’s The Hangover and it’s distributor, MGM, would have been praying for a hit of that magnitude to help them with their current dire straits. Sadly, you can’t get money for nothing (pun always intended) and Hot Tub… is a few guitar solos short of a fully-fledged 80’s power ballad.

Hot Tub… isn’t without laughs. At its best it is brilliantly funny but these instances are too few. The film becomes burdened with explaining ‘the butterfly effect’; a central component of time travel in films. A quick visit to dictionary.com explains it as such: ‘a chaotic effect caused by something seemingly insignificant, the phenomenon whereby a small change in a complex system can have a large effect somewhere else’. Hot Tub… stubbornly feels the need to explain this repeatedly and at great lengths when they should have been concentrating on more important things within this genre, i.e. dick jokes. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few dick jokes; there’s just a lot more chaos theory.

Hot Tub… is simply not equal to the sum of its parts. There is a very strong cast headed by the three friends Adam, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) along with Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke). They all work well together and there is an excellent supporting role for Crispin Glover as the accident-prone bellboy; no stranger to time-travel himself thanks to his part in Back to the Future. The comic possibilities of a return to the ’80s is frustratingly underused in the narrative, as typified by the too-brief cameo of Chevy Chase. Hot Tub… should have paid closer attention to the extensive research on display in The Wedding Singer.

Hot Tub Time Machine is ultimately a disappointment. It is an adequate comedy but the untapped potential of the concept left me with a rebel yell; crying out for more, more, more… more, more, more.

Peter White
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Hot Tub Time Machine is released on 7 May 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine – Official Website

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