Movie review

'About Last Night' lacks original's luster

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Still one of the world's most adorable couples, Danny and Debbie are polishing off Chinese takeout -- straight from the cartons, as required by movie law -- and watching a romcom.

They argue, good naturedly, about whether it's a chick flick or a dude's movie as Rob Lowe and Demi Moore fleetingly appear on screen. It's a nod to the original Danny and Debbie in the first "About Last Night."

'Endless Love'

Starring: Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Joy Bryant, Regina Hall.

Rating: R for sexual content,  language and brief drug use.

It has been moved 28 years and half a country away, from Chicago to Los Angeles. That's the stomping grounds for Danny (Michael Ealy) and his best friend and co-worker in the restaurant supply business, Bernie (Kevin Hart), along with roomies Joan (Regina Hall) and Debbie (Joy Bryant).

A hot hookup between Bernie and Joan leads to an introduction between Danny and Debbie. He has spent the past year recovering from a breakup and she expects relationship failure 95 percent of the time.

They slide into that fabled 5 percent, though, and soon find themselves advancing through the relationship stages, from spending nights and all of their free time together to Danny offering Debbie a drawer in his apartment and (even better) a set of keys and then an invitation to move in with him.

In this sometimes raunchy romantic comedy directed by Steve Pink ("Hot Tub Time Machine," "Accepted"), both couples hit rocky patches. Bernie and Joan quickly go up in flames, with outrageous insults flung within earshot of everyone at whatever party or bar they share, while Danny and Debbie quietly disintegrate.

The movie acknowledges its origins, David Mamet's play, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," with a line about "Sexual Perversity in Los Angeles" and one of the characters makes a business trip to the Windy City.

If you're looking for someone as good looking as a young Rob Lowe, Mr. Ealy is your man with his soulful eyes and ability to cede the funny floor to Mr. Hart in almost every exchange. In fact, Mr. Ealy is so skilled at playing the decent guy that when he cuts loose, it seems uncharacteristic for Danny.

Mr. Hart, who appears to be improvising whenever possible, is having quite the 2014 with "Ride Along" and now, this. A little of his fast-talking, high-pitched routine goes a long way -- especially when combined with the same piercing patter by Ms. Hall -- but he has emerged as an audience favorite and box-office draw.

Although the remake incorporates such modern-day touches as Facebook unfriending and smartphone etiquette, the original seemed fresher -- larded with lessons and truths -- and a lot of R-rated or edgy PG-13 romcoms have opened since then. Just two years ago, for instance, the tamer "Think Like a Man" featured three of these four stars.

"About Last Night" is two movies in one, the conventional Danny-Debbie love story and the raucous Bernie-Joan tale. More traditional moviegoers might prefer the first but it will be the second that gets people talking. And laughing.

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog:

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