Friday, February 14, 2014

About Last Night [2014]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (O. Henderson) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

About Last Night [2014] (directed by Steve Pink, screenplay by Leslye Headland, based on screenplay of  the 1986 original screen version by Tim Kazurinsky and Denice DeClue in turn based on the 1974 stage play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" by David Mamet [IMDb]) is definitely an R-rated movie intended for 20-something young adults and above. (Doubting Parents please just take a look again at _the name of stage play_ on which the film based).

The purpose of the original 1974 stage play, the original 1986 film version and now the 2014 remake has always been _in good part_ to shock.  (And yes, "shock" can make for "good comedy," one laughs as one thinks: "I can't believe what I'm seeing/hearing..." ;-).

And so it is, the opening scene of this remake (moved from Chicago to L.A.) has Bernie (played by Kevin Hart) recalling to his more staid best friend / coworker Danny (played by Michael Ealy) in vivid, blow-by-blow, YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY NOT "be there" detail the sexual encounter with a woman named Joan (played by Regina Hall), who he had picked-up in the bar in which they were sitting the night before (the film's called "About Last Night" after all ...).  And even as we hear Bernie recalling that (last) night, we see Joan walking toward said bar with _her more sensible room-mate_ Debbie (played by Joy Bryant) in almost exactly the same detail.  Indeed, as the film is cut, the two are _completing each other's sentences_.

No matter what one may think of Bernie and Joan ... it would seem that they were truly "made for each other" ;-).  And so it should not to all that be surprising that they made a second date, and indeed, invited their two best friends to join them perhaps to validate their experience and to "share their joy."

Well, honestly Bernie and Joan continue to be "made for each other." After introductions between Danny and Debbie are made, Bernie and Joan (each talking a mile a minute) proceed to get absolutely plastered while their more sensible best friends, both somewhat exasperated and somewhat embarrassed, look on.  Eventually, the two drunks "excuse themselves."  We all know what they probably want to do (go somewhere to have ...) but we have a pretty good idea of what they're gonna do (pass out ,,,).

And so it goes ... finally having a chance to talk, Danny and Debbie find that they kinda find each other interesting ... and, well, Debbie ends up spending the night Danny's place.

The next day, Danny and Bernie meet back at work, Danny begins to recall that, to his surprise after Bernie and Joan had left them to themselves, he and Debbie kinda hit it off.  Bernie interrupts him and says, "I know."  "How??" "Joan and Debbie are roommates!"  But, though cutting-off Danny with his story, it's clear that Bernie's happy that his best friend.coworker and his emerging girl-friend's roommate hit it off.

The rest of the movie, up-down-and-all-around, follows....

Now someone in my position, Catholic priest after all, could certainly lament that THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE COURSE OF THE FILM, THROUGHOUT ALL OF THE SEXUAL ACTIVITY (actually relatively discreetly shot, for all the sexual _talk_ very little is actually shown) NOWHERE, NOWHERE, NOWHERE is there ANY DISCUSSION OF MARRIAGE AMONG ANY OF THEM.

ON THE OTHER HAND, ALL FOUR OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS (paired up in basically two on-again / off-again couples throughout the whole of the story) ARE ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL (and indeed, during the course of the film, both couples experience extended periods of breakup).  So I suppose the four would respond "Why talk of marriage, when we're absolutely convinced that somehow / someway it's gonna fail anyway?"  Honestly, FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME, THAT'S INTERESTING.

ALSO INTERESTING TO ME is how the story deals with IMHO the inevitable: The possibility of pregnancy (with all that sex after all...).  Yes, it's clear that they are all practicing birth-control.  Yet despite this, BOTH COUPLES find themselves facing the possibility (in the case of Danny-and-Debbie) or at least talking about the possibility (Bernie-and-Joan).  INTERESTINGLY while ALL FOUR SEEMED CONFLICTED about the possibility of creating (or having created) a child it seemed that ALL FOUR OF THEM WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HAVING THE CHILD (abortion as an option was never considered by any of them).

So for someone like me, this is actually a very interesting movie about: (1) four young people, paired up in two couples, drawn in such a way that WE VIEWERS REALLY DO BELIEVE that each of the two couples "were made for each other", yet THEY THEMSELVES ARE CONVINCED THAT SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY THEY THEMSELVES ARE GOING TO SCREW IT UP and (2) four young people who despite using birth-control and thus CERTAINLY NOT LOOKING to create a kid NEVERTHELESS STILL BEING OPEN IT, IF THEY ENDED UP CREATING A KID ANYWAY.

So certainly, this movie is NOT FOR MINORS.  The R-rating is richly deserved.  And certainly as far as CHURCH TEACHING GOES, the four people in the story DEFINITELY PUT THE CART WAY, WAY, WAY AHEAD OF THE HORSE (having all kinds of sex with each other before even beginning to articulate whether there was a future to their already existent relationship...).

Still, the film is not without value even for a Pastoral worker: How to convince skeptical, fearful, perhaps previously burned young people that serious relationships between two people who really do have a lot in common, who their families / friends see as "made for each other" NEED NOT END IN FAILURE? 

Anyway, while this film wouldn't necessarily make any top-ten list of mine, like the 1986 version (WHICH I SAW as a young adult in my 20s), THIS IS NOT A BAD FILM for _young adults_ (20 somethings) to see.

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