About Last Night...
Reviewed by Reed Hubbard
Rating: 7 Beans
ollywood has a history of taking brilliant works and turning them into mediocre movies. “The World According to Garp” and “Dune” come to mind. So, take a play by David Mamet play and give it to a couple of first-time screen writers, one of whom is a less-than-memorable “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, and expectations start to drop. Cast Rob Lowe in the lead and the movie immediately becomes a footnote in the “Brat Pack” section of a future “Where Are They Now?” magazine article. Throw Jim Belushi in there somewhere and you’ve guaranteed yourself a loser picture. This is what you get when you rent “About Last Night…”
The movie opens with Bernie (Belushi) telling Dan (Lowe) about a recent sexual conquest that quickly spins off into the ridiculous. This is where the movie tries to establish these two as “regular guys.” They do regular guy things like play softball, hang out at the local bar, booze it up, boast about their sexual prowess, and hustle every chick within earshot. These guys are nothing more than caricatures, especially Bernie, who brags endlessly and explicitly about obviously phony sexual encounters with everything from twins to albinos. He is a human version of Penthouse Forum, although Penthouse’s stories are more believable than Bernie’s.
Into the world of these ordinary average guys (apologies to Joe Walsh) wander Debbie (Demi Moore) and Joan (Elizabeth Perkins). Debbie is having an affair with her boss, but Danny is just so cute that she sleeps with him on the first date. And the second. And the third. Can you say, “EASY?” Meanwhile, Joan is bringing home a string of guys in an attempt to out-slut her roomie. This film has its finger on the pulse of Hollywood’s moral code. The girls are whores, the guys are whores, and everybody sleeps with everybody. In fact, you’re not really dating unless you’re screwing. But, hey, it’s not totally no holds barred sex! Debbie can nail her married boss…that’s OK. But when one of Joan’s boyfriends turns out to be married (unbeknownst to her), he’s committed the unforgivable sin. Breaking marriage vows is cool as long as everyone knows except the wife. Is it any wonder so many hookers live in Hollywood?
The burgeoning relationship between Dan and Debbie begins to alienate Bernie and Joan, who try to sabotage the couple as best as they can. Bernie is offensive, but Joan is THE definition of a cast-iron, grade-A, full-fledged, bold-faced bitch. She’s a bitch to Dan, to Bernie, to the guys she brings home. She’s even a bitch to Debbie. And she’s constantly a bitch. She NEVER lets up. She is so bare knucks bitchy in this role, that I’ve had trouble shaking that image when I’ve seen her in other movies. Perhaps that’s admirable, in that she was so convincing, but I don’t think many actresses want people to say, “She sure plays a good bitch!”
But back to Dan and Debbie, because their relationship is the supposed focus of this movie. They have sex. They move in together. They have sex. They have sex. They fight. They have sex. They make up. They have sex. They have sex. Very few movies have made sex this banal. It is not erotic or titillating. Neither is it romantic or beautiful. In fact, it’s just plain boring. It is used as filler by a screenwriting team who could not come up with enough material to make an hour-long film. The writers (Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue) also use other tricks to stretch a threadbare screenplay, such as the musical montage. You know, those scenes where time quickly elapses while a song from the soundtrack blares from the speakers. This film uses not one, not two, but FOUR such interludes (actually four and one-half, as one other scene is mostly music with some interspersed lines). Dan and Debbie move in together as Sheena Easton sings, “We’ve got a natural love.” Dan and Debbie luridly stare at each other and stir spaghetti sauce as Bob Seger sings, “She’s livin’ inside my heart.” Dan builds his restaurant as someone sings, “I’ve got an obsession.” At times, it’s like watching “VH-1: The Movie.” I think they should’ve gone for three hours. Let’s show Bernie and Dan playing softball while John Fogarty sings “Centerfield.” Let’s show Debbie and Danny screwing around while Todd Rundgren sings, “S – L – U – T, She may be a slut, but she looks good to me!” Gee, screenwriting is easy! Not as easy as Debbie or Joan, but still pretty easy!
Lowe and Moore are totally unconvincing as anything other than sex partners, and they’re not too good at that. Lowe is his typically unctuous self as he tries to be charming and smooth. Moore might as well be doing a community theater performance. They never convinced me that these two people had anything between them resembling love. Their characters are nothing more than veneer – pretty on the outside, void on the inside. When Debbie’s boss comes on to her, she rebukes him, screaming, “I want to have ten kids with this guy!” She could have fooled me as she and Dan spent the previous scene fighting. After they break up and Dan tries trolling the bars for women, he decides he wants Debbie back. She rebuffs him, saying, “We had nothing. We had good sex.” She’s right on. That’s all these vapid twentysomethings seem to be capable of. God help us if they were to procreate.
Jim “Hey! Look at me! I’m John Belushi’s brother! That automatically makes me funny!” Belushi plays the same obnoxious guy in every movie, although he is much more repugnant here. Perkins plays such an exhaustive bitch that any admirable part of her performance is lost in the morass of sharp-tongued insults and snotty remarks.
This movie is typical of the late 1980’s, when the young, single, together couple was a popular theme. “About Last Night…” doesn’t have a together couple, though. In fact, it has very little of value. It’s a good-looking film with pretty stars and no substance. It’s like crystal decanter filled with urine. The outside’s pretty, but the inside is a waste.
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