When it comes to films that should be remade, the 1986 romantic comedy “About Last Night” (which I really enjoyed) would probably not be high on my list.
Yet here it is, an updated version that the studio refers to as a “re-imagining” of the original, which was based on a stage play co-written by “Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Kazurinsky. The remake is a film with flaws, but it gets by because it understands the one rule of romantic comedies – it understands that if the audience likes the characters, there is a good chance they will like the movie.
These are very likable characters.
This remake shifts the story from Chicago to Los Angeles, with Danny (Michael Ealy) and Bernie (Kevin Hart) getting romantically involved with Joan (Regina Hall) and Debbie (Joy Bryant).
While Bernie and Joan’s relationship fizzles after a passionate start, Danny and Debbie’s relationship grows into something more. But as the commitment gets deeper, Danny and Debbie start to have doubts – worried this will end in the same manner that their previous relationships have.
How much you like “About Last Night” will probably depend on how much you like the four leads.
Bryant and Ealy carry more of the serious weight of the film, and they are interesting for the most part. Ealy showed he could be a romantic lead in “Think Like a Man,” and he continues to build that résumé here with a nice mix of brains and brawn.
Hart and Hall get the more comical part of the film. And while Hall shows she can hold her own, this is probably the best showcase yet for Hart’s comedic talents. He is unleashed here – unlike in “Ride Along” which saddled him with a PG-13 rating – and delivers some laugh-out-loud monologues.
“About Last Night” is at its best when it contrasts the men’s and women’s thoughts on relationships with rapid-fire dialogue that cuts back and forth between both points of view.
Those are the scenes where this remake feels fresh and is able to overcome a few minor quibbles. This is probably about 15 minutes too long, with the plot spinning its wheels a bit in the middle third.
But the cast makes it easy to forgive those warts.
“About Last Night” isn’t quite up to the same level as the Rob Lowe/Demi Moore original, but it seems to set its goals a little lower – and manages to succeed on that modest level.
Also in theaters
If you are looking for something a little more family friendly this Valentine’s weekend, “The LEGO Movie” (B+) is the perfect answer. It’s an animated treat that will please all.
It’s a movie that expands on the world of the popular toy, creating a universe full of imagination and surprise.
“The LEGO Movie” follows Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an average Joe construction worker who is mistakenly identified as the key to saving the LEGO universe.
With the help of an all-knowing prophet (voiced by Morgan Freeman), a feisty female named Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) and Batman (voiced by Will Arnett), Emmet sets out to stop the evil Lord Businessman (voiced by Will Ferrell) from destroying the LEGO world.
“The LEGO Movie” is very smart and very funny, with writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (and co-writers Dan and Kevin Hageman) creating a fully functional world that is as detailed as any Pixar film.
The film is full of rapid-fire humor and pop culture references, but it also has a bit of originality (I dare you to not hum the feature song “Everything is Awesome” after you leave the theater). Some of the best visual gags involve a relic room that features everything from Band-Aids to golf balls, with some clever payoffs.
The animation is fresh, using a stop-motion style that brings the LEGO toys to life.
And just when it looks like the film has run out of ideas comes a final act that no one will see coming.
It’s a turn I’m still reflecting on several days after seeing the film. I’m not sure I’m 100 percent sold on it, but it is a twist that is as smart as everything else in “The LEGO Movie” — taking the film to a completely different level.
It isn’t quite in the realm of the “Toy Story” and original “Shrek” films, but it is pretty close.
Whether you’ve played with a LEGO toy set, or just stepped on a LEGO toy, this is a film that everyone can identify with.
“The LEGO Movie” is rated PG for mild action and rude humor and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.