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About Last Night (Blu-ray Review)

About Last Night (2014) BluRay LabelSomething that I notice does not get enough attention regarding comedies is editing. I am not talking about the pace of a film necessarily, which I see brought up a lot; notably with Judd Apatow-produced comedies lately, which tend to feel a bit shaggy. When I say editing, I am referring more to the structure of scenes and how to create a sense of rhythm that comes from both the delivery of dialogue and actions from the characters involved and the way shots cut back and forth to best achieve a certain level of spark that makes a film click. About Last Night does not rely on much that is new in the realm of romantic comedies, but what it has is great editing that really sells the work done in the script and by the actors to show the chemistry on screen and keep things moving with a near screwball level of zaniness at times and an effectively biting tone at others. As a result, About Last Night easily won me over earlier this year and now I have a review of the Blu-ray to share as well.

Film:

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While the film can be considered a remake of the 1986 film About Last Night, which stared Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Jim Belushi, and Elizabeth Perkins, it is really just another cinematic version of David Mamet’s 1974 play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. This 2014 version is now set in Los Angeles and features Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Joy Bryant. Hart and Ealy are Bernie and Danny. Bernie is a fireball of energy, while Danny is more restrained. The same can be said for Hall and Bryant’s characters, Joan and Debbie. As the film begins, Bernie and Joan have just started going together, which allows for a double date that leads to Danny and Debbie getting together. From there, the film revolves around these two couples experiencing the highlights and deep lulls of being in a relationship.

A great asset for this film is its cast and the screenplay by Leslye Headland that supports them. Putting a group of likable actors together is one thing, but having a script that really allows them to have fun in their roles is an even greater touch. Even when the film is dealing with scenes that involve fighting and bitterly sniping at one another, it feels like a good amount of work was done in the writing and by the actors to provide a frequency that everyone sticks with. The film never feels uneven or like it is betraying itself, based on various character actions. It also helps that the film is very frank about one of its most important topics – sex.

About Last Night is the kind of film that talks openly and honestly about sex and earns its R-rating the right way. Characters curse and make references to different sexual scenarios, but are never overly crude about it for the sake of having raunchy comedic beats. The film features explicit material, but it is never gratuitous. While About Last Night is a remake/adaptation, it still feels so refreshing to see characters have conversations and end up in different scenes based around what I have described. Sure, the dialogue can only feel so authentic, given that it comes across as a mix of scripted material with a touch of improv every now and then, given the actors involved (namely Hart and Hall), but I cannot help but be entertained more by a frank R-rated comedy like this, as opposed to a sanitized PG-13 film that just does not feel real.

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I previously wrote about Kevin Hart in Ride Along. I would not call Ride Along a good movie, but the film has made a lot of money on a small budget, which can easily be accredited to Hart’s rise in popularity amongst audiences (Ice Cube didn’t hurt either). I like Hart in general and even if Ride Along was not a glorious piece of art, he made me laugh in a lot of instances. It is amazing to see what a script that works can really do, as I now get a chance to see Hart unleashed a good deal more, given the rating of this film, while also getting the chance to see him tackle better material. Pairing him with Regina Hall was a great touch as well. I can see some not enjoying this film as much, simply because they are either not big fans of Kevin Hart or do not care for the screaming matches between him and Hall’s character, but I was constantly rolling with laughter, because of them.

I am not going to short change Michael Ealy or Joy Bryant here either. They are obviously playing the less overtly comedic characters, as the serious side of the film relies on the ups and downs of their relationship. Still, the film works due to their chemistry together, as well as with Hart and Hall, since they are all supposed to be friends with each other. It shows and the film is better for it. Hell, even Christopher McDonald, who I will always either see as Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore or a generally slimy character actor, does a good job as a friendly bar owner who was good friends with Danny’s dad.

Director Steve Pink does a fine job juggling the different elements in this film and balancing out the four characters. You get a sense of who everyone is and seem to spend just enough time with each to be satisfied by the time the film ends. While the film is not all that flashy, despite some neat-looking transitions in the film, a key element is how Pink was able to assemble scenes that have the feel of conversations written for a play, but without too much staginess getting in the way. Additionally, it is always kind of impressive to see how well a director can get good “drunk” performances out of their performers, which worked well for this film that takes quite a few stops at the bar.

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Make no mistake, there is a certain inevitability to where this story goes, but About Last Night was a film I found to be really enjoyable. The dialogue had a rapid pace that gave the film a lot of energy. I was laughing a lot during the film, which amounts to how much I enjoy Kevin Hart, along with the rest of this cast, especially when the source is a good script that happens to feature good actors. It is not so much that I was surprised by this film, but I was caught off guard by how much I enjoyed it. I often find myself annoyed by movies about pretty people looking for love, but thanks to a sharp screenplay and solid editing to help craft this film as a modern screwball comedy, About Last Night was about as good as I ideally wanted it to be.

Video:

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Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: About Last Night may be a specific type of film, with a specific setting, but the film does take advantage of the multiple times of day and locations it can feature and this Blu-ray does a fine job of presenting these locations in clear detail. Apartments, clubs, etc. all look great in terms of seeing the detail of these locations, with only some minors issues based on low-lit club scenes.

Depth: Watching characters moving around, back and forth around bars and their apartments showed me plenty of depth to be found on this disc.

Black Levels: The darker scenes and ones with less light being applied benefit from the strength in the black levels found on this Blu.

Color Reproduction: Lots of colorful sequences based around these characters outfits, the different settings and more. When lots of colors are present, they tend to be quite bright and vivid, which is nice.

Flesh Tones: Character textures all register nicely, despite some shadowy moments, based again on some of the source lighting used.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing that really stood out.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English, French (Par) 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Descriptive Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French (Parisian), Spanish

Dynamics: As a dialogue-heavy film, About Last Night does a fine job of blending this aspect with its strong soundtrack filled with sourced audio tracks and other aspects that round out this audio experience.

Low Frequency Extension: It is mainly the soundtrack that contributes to this aspect and it does that very well.

Surround Sound Presentation: The whole audio experience is balanced very well, as I was hearing all of the various aspects of this film over my entire surround system with no real flaw to find in said presentation.

Dialogue Reproduction: This is the aspect that matters most and it is just fine.

 

Extras:

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A bit underwhelming, considering the very funny key players and the potential to provide more in the extra section of this disc (no bloopers or extended scenes, really?). Still, there are some highlights to be found amongst these featurettes.

Features Include:

  • An Un-Romantic Comedy – A pretty standard look at the making of the film, with the cast and some crew basically spending 15 minutes talking about why this film is special, despite not featuring the director or screenwriter.
  • I Love You? – The cast talk about what it means to say, “I love you” first in a relationship.
  • About Last Night Advice – The cast describes the makings of a good relationship in their eyes.
  • Word on the Street – Easily the best extra on this disc, though it doesn’t involve the cast or crew. Instead, this is a featurette focused on random people talking about relationships for 10 minutes.
  • Peviews
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

Summary:

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While About Last Night was a decent hit, based on its budget, the popularity of Kevin Hart, and the critical reception, I am among the few who really liked this film a lot. I found the film to be very funny, quick-witted, and nicely constructed as far as these sort of films go, with an R-rating to allow it to dig a bit deeper as well. The Blu-ray’s technical presentation is fine, though the extras leave more to be desired. For those seeking a fine romantic comedy, About Last Night is a surprisingly very good pick.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com. Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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