Seduction is all in how it’s played, as evidenced by the winning “About Last Night.” It’s playful, stable and sexy, thanks to a cast that knows how to find the sweet spots.
A remake of the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore rom-com of the same name, “Night” is one of three ’80s do-overs arriving for Valentine’s Day weekend. This one changes the focus to African-American singles in Los Angeles, and plays things fast, loose and funny. Most crucially, the four sexy leads make the material their own.
Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) are pals hanging out the night after Bernie met (and went home with) Joan (Regina Hall). She’s due to show up with her roommate, Debbie (Joy Bryant).Bernie and Joan — each a nutcase in his or her own hilarious way — quickly get into a drunk zone together, leaving Danny and Debbie to chat. Very mellow but undeniable love sparks fly, and the two go back to Danny’s place. Soon neither can believe they’re hanging out as much as they are.While Bernie and Joan constantly fight and are constantly frisky, Danny and Debbie tentatively take steps toward being exclusive, moving in together and settling into coupledom.
Seasons change. Each couple experiences breakups and reconciliations. All the while, director Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) keeps the pace fast and fresh, so it doesn’t often feel like rom-com recycling. Still, the material can be overly familiar. And sometimes Pink’s style is too frenetic, with back-and-forth editing and rat-a-tat-tat dialogue that deserves a breath.
Most of the time, though, the movie works, especially with Ealy and Bryant being a knockout pair. He’s cool without being cocky, she’s sexy with just a hint of cynicism, and like Lowe and Moore in the original (glimpsed briefly during a date-night Netflix viewing), their casual sensuality complements each other.
The hilarious Hart is a dynamo, achieving something few comics pull off. He melds standup energy with the requirements of being a romantic figure. Bernie and Joan weren’t a couple in the ’86 film — or in David Mamet’s ’70s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” on which the movie was based. But between the dervish-like Hart and the adorably out-there Hall, the symmetry works, and their raunchiness amps things up.
Cinematic valentines that aim for all audiences often feel pandering. “That Awkward Moment” recently tried, and failed, to be a relationship flick appealing to guys. This one clicks. It even cut the ellipsis at the end of the original title, “About Last Night …” There’s no hesitancy here at all. Who can resist that?