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Game, Sex, Match

MOVIE REVIEW
About Last Night (2014)

About-last-night-movie-review-kevin-hart-michael-ealy
Matt Kennedy/Screen Gems

“Hot Tub Time Machine” director Steve Pink’s “urban” reinterpretation of “About Last Night” unexpectedly feels as current and vital as can be — no small feat if you take into account the fact that the source material is a 1974 David Mamet play, first brought to the big screen in 1986 by Edward Zwick and starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins. It's all the more noteworthy that the parallel friends-with-benefits relationships Mr. Mamet once christened “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” now raise an eyebrow hardly ever.

For cinema purists, remakes of any sort automatically infer artistic bankruptcy, double-dipping commercialism and audience patronization. Remaking foreign-language movies into English ones merely implies the public’s illiteracy, and remaking English-language movies indicates an industry that thrives on marketing and not content. But these urban remakes deserve a pass, for minority moviegoers still struggle to find self-identification and get shortchanged by either the prevalent tokenism or Tyler Perry’s feature-length cliché.

Screenwriter Leslye Headland has the urban formula down to a science, although the film's winsome cast deserves credit as well — and not only for ad-libbing. Kevin Hart and Regina Hall are raunchy and sharp, while their straight foils Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant seem soulful and dreamy. There isn’t a missed beat or a false note among these four. You don’t just walk out thinking that you deserve better relationships from now on, but that you also deserve better movies like this one.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT

Opens on Feb. 14 in the United States and on March 21 in Britain.

Directed by Steve Pink; written by Leslye Headland, based on the screenplay by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue and the play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” by David Mamet; director of photography, Michael Barrett; edited by Tracey Wadmore-Smith and Shelly Westerman; music by Marcus Miller; production design by Jon Gary Steele; costumes by Ann Foley; produced by Will Gluck and Will Packer; released by Screen Gems. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Kevin Hart (Bernie), Michael Ealy (Danny), Regina Hall (Joan), Joy Bryant (Debbie), Christopher McDonald (Casey McNeil), Adam Rodriguez (Steven Thaler), Joe Lo Truglio (Ryan Keller) and Paula Patton (Alison).

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