Frances Winston feels that this remake of the 1986 original is watchable and entertaining
Directed by: Steve Pink – Starring: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Joy Bryant, Christopher McDonald, Adam Rodríguez, Joe Lo Truglio, Paula Patton
If the title of this film seems familiar, that is because it is a loose remake of the 1986 film of the same name, which starred Rob Lowe and Demi Moore (who look like they have barely aged a day since!) which in turn was based on a David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago. The original is something of a classic, featuring great performances from the two leads (as well as from James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins in supporting roles) so one must wonder why they felt the need to tamper with it.
This is not high-concept art, and they are not reinventing the wheel. It is a rom-com pure and simple, that basically takes you on a journey through the pitfalls of relationships when the first flush of passion wears off. What makes a movie like this work is a solid script, and good performances and chemistry from the leads.
Given the strength of the source material, you would think it didn’t need much work, but they’ve taken the original setting of Chicago and moved it to LA, and have also employed a predominately black cast. They have also added more humour to the mix, and contemporised the characters.
This film predominately deals with Danny and Debbie (Ealy and Bryant) whose one night stand develops into something more, before falling apart. Ealy and Bryant have a great chemistry together as you would expect, and it was interesting that the writers retained some of their original lines of dialogue from the 1986 flick.
Hart seems to be riding high at the moment, but is best known for his slapstick comic turns, so I thought he was an odd choice for this more sedate script. However, it seems that when he tones down his usually hyper performance style, he is actually rather watchable in what was James Belushi’s role of Bernie in the original. He too has good chemistry with Ealy, who plays his best friend, and the pair’s scenes together are snappy and engaging.
The character that is changed the most for this outing is Debbie’s friend Joan, played here by Hall, and Perkins in the original. Perkins’ Joan was caustic and not always likeable, whereas here she is funny, and truer to the way Mamet wrote the character originally.
The script manages to balance that delicate line between romance and comedy, and veers just the right side of schmaltz. The pacing is snappy, ensuring that the viewer never gets bored. This film doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, and was probably an unnecessary remake, but it turns out to be watchable and entertaining, and at under two hours long it knows when to bow out gracefully.
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