About Last Night... (1986) / Romance-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for nudity, sexuality, and language
Running Time: 113 min.
Cast: Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Jim Belushi, Elizabeth Perkins, Tim Kazurinski (cameo), Catherine Keener (cameo)
Director: Edward Zwick
Screenplay: Tim Kazurinsky, Denise DeClue (based on the play, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago", by David Mamet)
Review published September 19, 2006
SNL alum Tim Kazurinsky (aka "Sweetchuck" from the Police Academy films) reworked David Mamet's one-act play from the mid-1970s, "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" into the modern day with About Last Night... (reportedly, the title changed due to some media outlets refusing to promote it with its original title). Very simply, the story revolves around four people experiencing dating life in Chicago, with all of the ups and downs that go with trying to make a relationship work.
Best buds Danny (Lowe, The Specials) and Bernie (Belushi, Trading Places) like to spend their evenings scoring with the hot single ladies at their favorite bar, Mother Malone's. Things change when Danny has a one-nighter with Debbie (Moore, One Crazy Summer), which leads to another and another, until the two finally become an item. This doesn't sit well with their two best friends, as the happy young couple begin to spend all of their free time together, until they finally decide to move in together permanently. Things change in the relationship almost immediately, and not for the better, as they realize that they may not know as much about each other as they think they do.
Former television director Zwick, who would go on to make Academy Award nominated epics like Glory and The Last Samurai, directs his first feature film with this one, and the result is uneven for the most part, but when it works, it works well. Screenwriter Kazurinsky had originally written the film to star his mentor, John Belushi, along with frequent partner Dan Aykroyd, and one can see in the character of Bernie all of the gags that John would have performed so well. James Belushi, who has played the character in the stage play, fills in, but lacks that sense of knowing impishness that the character requires, making him come off as a tad oafish and somewhat unbelievable as a successful playboy. One gets the feeling that Bernie could only score from his pretty-boy friend Danny's leftovers, which probably explains why he is so despondent at having to go to the bar alone to meet chicks.
The film is probably best loved by those who have the hots for Rob Lowe or Demi Moore, as they do engage in some racy sex scenes. While these scenes might seem mostly gratuitous, they do cement the relationship as primarily driven by sexual interests, which explains why the two could end up living together without ever really learning as much about each other as they probably should. The chemistry between the two isn't always evident, but they do manage to deliver during key poignant scenes. It is this surprising poignancy that elevates this romantic comedy into something more than the usual fare.
About Last Night... doesn't quite have the stuff to be a lasting drama about relationships, as it is packaged for mass consumption. As a smaller independent film, perhaps this could have been one of the best romances of its era, but it gets shoehorned into typical mid-80s clichés, including pumping up the soundtrack, glossing over of the grittier moments, and musical montages galore. However, the soundtrack is catchy and romantic, and perfectly in keeping with the kind of film that it is, so it's hard to carp too much in this respect. Now, if only I could only find a way to get Sheena Easton's "So Far, So Good" out of my head...
While it may not be must-see entertainment for most, fans of Moore and Lowe should definitely give it a look, as well as those involved in semi-serious relationships. Unlike most romantic comedies, the film actually shows that relationships are something you have to work at, which does make it a refreshing change of pace from the usual custom of most of the troubles happening before they truly end up together.
-- Remade in 2014 as About Last Night
©2006 Vince Leo