Monday, February 14, 2011

Film Review: ABOUT LAST NIGHT... (1986, Edward Zwick)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 113 minutes.
Tag-line: "It's about men, women, choices, friendship, love, last night..."
Best one-liner:"You don't go here. You don't go there. You're about as much fun as a stick."

Alright, ABOUT LAST NIGHT..., I'll try and keep this brief. I've come to talk to you about last night. I watched you, and, to tell the truth, you weren't great. Allow me to clarify. If I was expecting 80's romantic fluff, say, like ST. ELMO'S FIRE (whose cast you stole!), I'd have been only mildly irked instead of actively pissed. See, the problem here is that you're "based on" a concise but complex play by David Mamet called SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO. This play was punctuated by sharply crude but masterfully constructed dialogue, and presented (in Mamet's words) "intimate relationships as minefields of buried fears and misunderstandings."

It's about misogyny, alienation, fact you could say it's about any number of things EXCEPT ten-minute 'moving in, having sex, and fixing up things around the apartment montages' set to sappy love ballads.

This movie changes and needlessly extends the play (it's almost 2 hours!) in ways that can only be described as offensive. Screenwriters Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue- whose most notable works include THE CHEROKEE KID, a TV movie western starring Sinbad, and FOR KEEPS?, an unforgettable collaboration between Molly Ringwald and Pauly Shore- have taken it upon themselves to mess with and expand upon Mamet's dialogue, and, as a result, the remaining 'untampered Mamet' within stands out like Maria Callas at Karaoke night. The final ignominy, is, of course, a 'love conquers all' ending, which by the time it happens, seems just about par for the course. Seriously, at that point, you're just happy to have the movie be over. Mamet disavowed the film, and later said, "as a callow youth with hay sticking out of my ears, I sold both the play and the screenplay for about $12 and a mess of porridge." Alright, well, here's two stars: one for Chicago-actor extraordinaire James Belushi (the only madman in the cast who really understands Mamet's voice)

and the unedited Mamet dialogue that survived, and one for teaching 'ole Dave a valuable lesson about intellectual property.

Side note: Slightly more enjoyable if you pretend it's a prequel to STRIPTEASE.

Demi and Elizabeth Perkins discuss that whacky Congressman Dilbeck.

-Sean Gill


J.D. said...

I bet Mamet would like to kill everyone involved with this film. Man, what a collossal missfire this film is. Still, Demi Moore naked but that's about it. Good call about stealing ST. ELMO'S cast.. hah! So true... This is not a good film at all. Love to see Mamet revisit this film on his own terms.

Space Cadet said...

Pre Demi implants: Man, that was like a whole ‘nother universe. Who was I then? I can’t remember. All I know is that Zwick made-up for it with Matthew Broderick leading the charge into a hornet’s nest of Confederates… and then lost some of it again with Tom Cruise in samurai armor.

But I concur about Belushi. Hey, speaking of which, you should review THE PRINCIPAL. It’s gotta scene where he (Jimbo) rides his motorcycle down a high school corridor. It’s rad.

Sean Gill said...


It certainly would be interesting to see the Mamet of today make a film of SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO. I'm guessing he won't get the chance due to rights issues, and he seems to want to do new original material anyway (though I'd kind of love to see him adapt AMERICAN BUFFALO or SPEED-THE-PLOW), but I'd still like to see it. I was warned about ABOUT LAST NIGHT, and I figured there was no way it could be thaaaaaaat bad, but boy was I wrong.

Space Cadet,

Ha! Excellent commentary on the Zwickster. I haven't watched a film of his since LAST SAMURAI, so I have no way of knowing if BLOOD DIAMOND or DEFIANCE resulted in gained or lost ground.

And, heh, as a matter of fact I did do a little write-up on THE PRINCIPAL, which you can check out here

at your leisure!

Space Cadet said...

Ask and ye shall receive – I guess if I wasn't such a lazy ass I woulda' checked your archive to see for myself. Thanks for making me feel stupid.

Pointless Segue No. 113: BLOOD DIAMOND costars Arnold Vosloo, who also played a villain in the 1993 HARD TARGET where he utters the line “Wakey wakey, you fat fuck!” before judo-chopping a sleeping fat guy.

Sean Gill said...

Ah, good old Vosloo. Second-string Darkman and karate-chopper of sleeping fat guys. I gotta do a review of HARD TARGET one of these days.