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Originally published February 13, 2014 at 12:06 AM | Page modified February 13, 2014 at 12:51 PM

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‘About Last Night’: a one-night stand best forgotten

A one-star review of “About Last Night,” a raunchy, loud, pointless remake of a 1986 Rob Lowe/Demi Moore movie.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 1 stars

‘About Last Night,’ with Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant, Regina Hall. Directed by Steve Pink, from a screenplay by Leslye Headland, based on a play by David Mamet. 100 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use. Several theaters

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The cultural dilution of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” continues with “About Last Night,” an adaptation/remake with even less of the play’s DNA than the dreadful original film. “About Last Night…,” from 1986, is bathed in the trademark gauzy schmaltz of director Edward Zwick, but at least it retains a smidgen of Mamet’s headlong, profane wit. That element has been completely eradicated from this new version, which amps up the raunch but forgets the wit.

The suddenly ubiquitous Kevin Hart gets top billing, but the movie’s main characters are Michael Ealy’s Danny and Joy Bryant’s Debbie, a couple whose one-night stand quickly escalates into something more serious. Despite the reservations of their respective best friends, Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall), each falls fast and hard for the other, and soon they’ve moved in together. Naturally, that’s when the trouble starts.

Ealy and Bryant are likable screen presences with genuine chemistry, but there’s only so much they can do with the tired, reductive dynamic of irresponsible man and killjoy woman that’s eventually introduced to inject some conflict. Besides, this is a movie far more interested in a different pair.

Bernie and Joan, who were merely friends of the leads in the 1986 film, have been upgraded to secondary couple status here, mainly as a vehicle for the scrunched-up comic stylings of Hart, who never met a bad joke he couldn’t make worse by screeching it louder. Hall is unfortunately Hart’s perfect comic counterpart — each one keeps outdoing the other in the race for most obnoxious. (Hart wins.)

Director Steve Pink (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and writer Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette”) are both responsible for films that overestimated their own edginess, and “About Last Night” follows suit. Supposedly envelope-pushing jokes about oral sex and contraceptives are as passé as they come. And even though it’s largely comic in tone, the film still can’t help but get sucked into a slushy vortex of sentimentality by the time the credits roll.

“About Last Night” references its predecessor when Danny and Debbie watch Rob Lowe and Demi Moore’s softball scene in the original and argue over whether it’s a girl movie or a guy movie. As for the remake? Let’s not insult a whole gender by assigning it to either one.

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