By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
First off, a point of trivia. How many movie remakes contain a scene in which the characters watch the original version of the movie they’re in?
Some research will be required. But this definitely happens in “About Last Night,” a new version of the 1986 romantic comedy.
That movie, starring Rob Lowe and Jim Belushi as buddies who talk about their sex lives and Demi Moore and Elizabeth Perkins as the women who alternately love and hate them, is given a racial update here.
This time the main cast members are black, and the action (adapted from David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”) moves from the Windy City to Los Angeles.
In part because the Belushi role is taken by red-hot comedian Kevin Hart (whose presence made “Ride Along” a smash hit last month), the supporting characters are given bigger roles in this version. Hart and Regina Hall get the bulk of the movie’s outrageous comedy; their on-again, off-again bouts of coupling are raucous (and probably partly improvised).
The nominal leads are Michael Ealy (“Think Like a Man”) and Joy Bryant (from TV’s “Parenthood”), both appealing actors who also know how to play comedy. We follow them over the course of a single year, from initial meeting through first tentative steps toward cohabitation and beyond.
All the while, Ealy gets Satan-on-his-shoulder advice from Hart’s determined bachelor. The advice is all negative, of course: Don’t move in together, don’t be the first to say “I love you,” don’t buy a dog (because a dog is really just practice for marriage and children).
The movie’s got plenty of contrivances, and the whole thing about the best buddy advising his pal not to settle down is overused in movies by a factor of 100 or so. And yet the film is generally pretty fun.
Director Steve Pink, who scored a hit with “Hot Tub Time Machine,” doesn’t pause for breath very long. Sometimes this is literal: There are simple, short dialogue scenes that appear to have been edited by a serious coffee addict, with dozens of unnecessary cuts.
But he gets the cast to stay lively throughout, especially Kevin Hart and Regina Hall. Don’t be surprised if the two of them graduate to another movie — their chemistry together is a true battle of comic equals.
“About Last Night” (two and a half stars)
An update of the 1986 romantic comedy, this time with black actors in the primary roles. The most laughs come from the raucous, battling duo of Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, who really deserve their own spin-off sequel; the leads are Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant. Plenty of contrived situations, but the movie’s generally fun.
Rated: R for nudity, language, subject matter.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Marysville, Meridian, Oak Tree, Sundance, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.