Critical Mass: Is 'About Last Night' a hit? At this point... we don't know!

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Image Credit: Matt Kennedy

When you wake up tomorrow morning, the day after Valentine’s Day, will you be talking About Last Night?

It’s 1980s flashback at the cinema this weekend, with RoboCop, Endless Love, and About Last Night getting 21st-century updates. The latter is perhaps the most promising since it’s an ideal date movie on a sweetheart holiday, there’s nostalgic fondness for the 1986 version with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, and it features the popular hysterics of Kevin Hart, whose recent film, Ride Along, just surpassed $100 million at the box office. “When About Last Night is funny, which is every so often, it’s because of Kevin Hart,” writes EW’s Owen Gleiberman. “He now owns the fastest mouth in movie comedy, and he knows how to employ his whole high-pitched Chris Tucker street-fury style so that it expresses something more humane than it did when Tucker was ruling the screen with it.”

Based on David Mamet’s 1974 play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, directed by Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine) and written by Bachelorette writer/director Leslye Headland, the new About Last Night shifts to Los Angeles, casts an African-American quartet that includes Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Joy Bryant, but essentially follows the same beats as the 1986 film. Click below to see if the nation’s critics think it’s worth the price of two tickets.

Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly)
“The way the material has now been rewritten again, it comes closer to Mamet’s rancorous vision of dueling hormones than the ’80s screen version did. … The 1986 About Last Night was watchable but mediocre, and the new version is watchable and… a little more slapdash, a little more lively.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)
“For all the R-rated booty-talk, the entire movie is… nice. Danny and Debbie move in together, cocoon, doubt, bicker, and split, and what honesty there remains about the stress-fractures of early coupledom is swamped by slick, rote storytelling that never draws blood.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)
“[Kevin Hart's] Bernie and Regina Hall’s Joan have an immediate and combustible sexual chemistry, but once they’re out of bed and in public they’re at each other’s throats. Some of their fight scenes are truly funny. Some are just loud and screechy.”

Wesley Morris (Grantland)
“[Leslye] Headland’s script expands the parameters of Mamet’s play to make the women as funny as the men in the play think they are. This film has the looseness of a movie made of outtakes — but they mostly work, and they mostly involve Hall and Hart. They’re the undercard that takes over the movie.”

Kimberley Jones (Austin Chronicle)
“Ultimately, the filmmakers are only interested in exploring the sexual itch, and that itch gets scratched six ways to Sunday. A perfectly executed punch line will make up for almost anything — not that About Last Night has much to apologize for: It’s the funniest, friskiest date movie in a good long while.

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)
About Last Night is daring and gutless at the same time. It’s daring in that it’s a romantic movie that’s willing to be coarse. It’s gutless in that it refuses to paint any of its characters in a negative light, even temporarily.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)
“Race is never an explicit theme in the movie, which you could interpret as tactful or utopian, but, in any case, the emphasis is on the comic difficulties faced by two couples, one sensitive and well behaved, the other outrageously naughty.”

Peter Labuza (Variety)
“[Director Steve] Pink could have found more inventive ways to invigorate these familiar beats than the nine montages included in the film’s not particularly long running time. Still, the actors give the proceedings a mostly quick-witted repartee that prevails over the occasionally stale script.

Steve Macfarlane (Slant)
“Beneath most every woozy rom-com trope available, About Last Night buries an almost admirable human messiness — and it looks and feels like everybody had a great time making it.”

Frank Scheck (Hollywood Reporter)
“At one point, Danny and Debbie are amusingly shown watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in the 1986 film on television and begin debating about whether it’s a “chick movie” or a “dude movie.” This version actually manages to have it both ways. It’s both a chick movie and a dude movie.”

Geoff Pevere (Toronto Globe and Mail)
“As written by Leslye Headland, the 2014 model of About Last Night may be no less yuppie fantasy-prone than its Reagan-issue predecessor, but it beefs up the girl-side element of the story, incorporates considerably more frank sex talk, and generally provides its cast with a lot more meat to chew on and spit back out.”

About Last Night
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 62
Rotten Tomatoes: 75 percent

Rated: R
Length: 100 Minutes
Starring Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant
Distributor: Sony Pictures

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