Right from the start, “About Last Night” is raucous, well-written and just plain fun, setting a new standard for modern movies that dare to list both “romantic” and “comedy” in their job description.
It all begins with the wonderfully-dysfunctional Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall), who have a wild night together and decide to do it again.
Mirroring the “he said, she said” conversation from which the movie takes its name, they drag along their “boring” friends, Danny (Michael Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant), divulging the dirty details of their flawed first encounter with their pals before they meet.
“It was not bad, but imperfect,” Joan says to Debbie as she describes their night together. “If you get it right the first time, there’s nowhere to go.”
That expression could easily be applied to “About Last Night,” which is the rare reboot to actually improve upon its predecessor. In this case, that’s 1986’s histrionic “About Last Night…,” starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and Jim Belushi.
Thankfully, the remake cuts back on the moony montages, though that isn’t to say that there aren’t a few after Debbie and Danny’s relationship begins to blossom.
For the most part, “ALN” hilariously zips back and forth as the guys recount their latest dramas and sexcapades while the women do the same with one another.
Thankfully, in spite of the trailers, the movie mostly avoids well-trodden “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”-style approach to love, and it’s better for it.
Instead, much of the humor comes from the stark differences in the ways each couple deals with obstacles, with one favoring passive-aggressive silence while the other couldn’t get much louder.
Bernie and Joan bring some much-needed levity to the film, as Debbie and Danny’s relationship borders on the sickeningly sweet side, complete with puppy dogs, bubble baths, and yes, a few cloying montages.
But since it can’t all be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, the film loses a bit of steam in the middle when the duo begins to retread the morose melodrama of Lowe and Moore in the ‘80s.
Luckily, the producers knew what they had in the duo of Hall and Hart. “About Last Night” quickly recovers and sticks the landing so successfully that it might just warm the heart – or at least tickle the funny bone – of even the most ardent Valentine’s Day hater.
Rated R, in theaters on February 14.