By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — For a piece of trash that lacks any semblance of moral maturity, "About Last Night" (Screen Gems) certainly has a long pedigree.
Director Steve Pink has loosely updated Edward Zwick’s 1986 film of the same name (essentially the same, at least; an ellipse, here suppressed, adorned the end of the original title). And both movies derive from David Mamet’s 1974 play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago."
Aging fans of the Brat Pack who ignored the former Office for Film and Broadcasting’s classification of Zwick’s movie as morally offensive may remember that its action transpired among the Windy City’s bar-hopping white yuppies — Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, et al. Pink substitutes downtown Los Angeles for Chi-town and populates his version with black urban professionals, or buppies.
The resulting take on contemporary dating mores blends coarse comedy with hollow drama as it tracks the romantic fortunes of best friends and co-workers Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Danny (Michael Ealy). In between comic riffs on all things vulgar, manic Bernie falls tempestuously in lust with Joan (Regina Hall), while Danny launches into a somewhat more elevated relationship with Joan’s pal, Debbie (Joy Bryant).
The unruly, passion-driven nature of Bernie and Joan’s prolonged hook-up is contrasted with the more subdued character of their counterparts’ connection (think candlelit bubble baths). Yet both alliances begin with a casual encounter. And the supposedly more respectable of the two bonds culminates in what passes, in this context, for a major mutual commitment: Danny and Debbie’s weighty decision to shack up.
Emotional turmoil ensues, fueled by such conflict-inducing horrors as a water stain on the brand-new dining room table. Perhaps this round mark upsets Debbie so unduly because it’s the only ring in sight?
We know things have gotten bad when the dialogue reveals that it’s been a full three days since Danny and Debbie’s last roll in the hay. Time to agonize.
The idea that the course of true love might have run a tad smoother for the pair had they started things off by spending more than a few hours in each other’s company before jumping into bed occurs, of course, to no one.
Those not utterly anesthetized by the weepy fumes of Debbie and Danny’s emoting will be suitably offended by a Halloween costume party scene featuring a slatternly barfly in a "slutty nun" outfit. Did someone mention perversity?
The film contains a debased view of human sexuality, strong adult content, including graphic nonmarital sexual activity with partial nudity, cohabitation, drug use, relentless filthy humor, a few instances of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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