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  About Last Night... Modern Love
Year: 1986
Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi, Elizabeth Perkins, George DiCenzo, Michael Alldredge, Robin Thomas, Donna Gibbons, Megan Mullally, Patricia Duff, Rosanna De Soto, Sachi Parker, Robert Neches, Joe Greco, Ada Maris, Rebeca Arthur, Tim Kazurinsky
Genre: RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Danny (Rob Lowe) and Bernie (James Belushi) are best friends who work in the same office in Chicago, and Bernie likes to regale his pal with tales of his sexual adventures, however outlandish and unbelievable they may sound (Danny is still convinced of every word). Today they are playing in a baseball game staged by their local bar, and before it starts, Danny notices an attractive woman who he would like to get to know better. She is Debbie (Demi Moore), who is attending with her best friend Joan (Elizabeth Perkins), and while he catches her eye, she doesn't seem interested when he finds an excuse to talk to her...

Ah, if only it had stayed that way we could have had almost two hours of James Belushi relating his bizarre sexual conquests to Rob Lowe instead of the tedium that we actually ended up with. About Last Night... was an adaptation of a David Mamet play called Sexual Perversity in Chicago, but rewritten for the screen by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue to remove any of the essential Mamet-ness, thereby watering down what might have been confrontational and arresting and turning it into your basic mid-eighties soap opera relationships flick.

This starred two of the Brat Pack, Lowe and Moore, and illustrated the problem these actors found once success came their way but after they had been lumped in with each other as a new movement in Hollywood cinema. That was, once they were crowned Brat Packers, what kind of films do you actually put them in? The answer, too often, was mediocre drama: nowadays they'd be running around in an action movie one month, starring in an indie-styled romance the next. So here Rob and Demi are the Mickey Mouses to James and Elizabeth's Bugs Bunnies, looking pretty square as their screen mates gather the lion's share of the one-liners.

As it turns out, About Last Night... is in two minds about how seriously to take love in the eighties, at first setting up camp with the cynicism of Bernie and Joan, but then, as if someone was twisting their arms behind the scenes, being forced to flop into a treacly get-together for the couple by the end. Before that occurs, there are acres of undistinguished arguments, makeups and montages (oh, how there are montages, at least four) to traipse through. The trouble is, for a far more interesting movie we really needed to see Bernie and Joan pair off, and the writers see that this would have been a good idea only they do it about ten minutes before the end and leave the rest to your imagination.

As it is, you're offered an achingly ordinary tale of two good-looking individuals sleeping together, moving in with each other, falling out, moving out, then realising they can't live without each other (well, he does anyway, in an uncomfortably needy display of emotion). Any wit, any interest, is drained from this set-up very quickly, and what you're left with is a dry run for director Edward Zwick's hit show Thirtysomething, so if you enjoyed that then you may find something to satisfy you here. Everyone else will be shifting in their seats and wondering if a little self-awareness of the non-wisecraking kind might have helped: personally, I think Debbie should have gone off with her card trick-deploying blind date with the fake "English" accent - now there would be a film worth seeing. Music by Miles Goodman.

[Sony's Blu-ray has an affable chat between Zwick and Lowe, an original featurette and a trailer as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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