About Last Night…

About Last Night… (1986)
★ / ★★★★

Danny (Rob Lowe) and Debbie (Demi Moore) decide to build a relationship from a one night stand. They are physically attracted to one another but neither is completely sure if they were ready for a mature, mutually beneficial relationship. Still, they decide to move together with the hope that the latter crucial ingredient will somehow fall into place. After a few months of living together, Danny and Debbie, in their own ways, begin to yearn for their former single lives.

Based on David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and written for the screen by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue, “About Last Night…” is a tolerable romantic-drama because of its somewhat erotic love scenes but the love story tests the patience. Because it becomes obvious to us early on in the protagonists’ relationship that they may not be a good fit for one another, the material forcing the characters to play catch up is not an involving experience. Although Lowe and Moore are appealing together, I was mostly bored by the story. It is about thirty minutes too long.

Danny and Debbie have their own personalities but they are upstaged by their best friends. James Belushi plays a party-loving guy and every time he is on screen, he floods the frame with energy and color. Although I found his character, Bernie, a bit abrasive and over-the-top at times, at least he made me laugh. That is more than I can say about either Danny or Debbie. These two are pleasant but they are not the most exciting—either together or apart.

Belushi needs an equal and Elizabeth Perkins, Debbie’s roommate and best friend, is up to the task. Perkins plays Joan as a huge Debbie Downer, the kind of friend who one almost would like to hate from a third party point of view because not once does she root for Debbie’s romantic life to turn out well. She fears that if Debbie got into a relationship, she would end up being the third wheel. Her solution is to act unpleasant around Danny. Because she is unlikable at times, she is not boring. We have a defined opinion of her. Less can be said about the couple.

That is the picture’s main problem: the two central characters have middle-ground personalities, attitudes, and outlooks on life. It makes them lukewarm, almost soporific. It does not help that Lowe and Moore are not the most versatile performers. In some scenes, they are downright terrible. Still, at least they try to emote when the occasion calls for it instead of simply standing there like a pile of wood. It is difficult to invest in characters who are thinly written and portrayed.

Perhaps “About Last Night…,” directed by Edward Zwick, ought to have focused more on having more love scenes because that is its strength. Everything else is corny, from Danny wanting to open up his own restaurant to Debbie telling Joan that she loves her anyway even though Joan wanted the relationship to crash and burn from the moment Debbie and Danny met. Give me a break. If the screenplay had any semblance of reality, these two so-called girlfriends would no longer be friends by the time the movie hit its third act.

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