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About Last Night... (1986)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc released: 8/11/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/16/2009

I've been a film fan all of my life, but the mid to late 80s were an odd time. While I was out pursuing every independent horror movie that I could, I missed a lot of mainstream movies. Even today, friends are surprised that I've never seen movies like Ghost or Pretty Woman. Honestly, I didn't have any interest in them, and I was probably too absorbed in Phantasm II, The Blob, or The Stepfather to even notice. But, every now and then I get the chance to catch up on an 80s castoff on home video. So, when About Last Night... arrived on Blu-ray Disc, I decided to give it a shot.

About Last Night... focuses on a group of young adults living in Chicago. Danny (Rob Lowe) and Bernie (James Belushi) are close friends who work together at a restaurant supply company. Both are confirmed bachelors, and Bernie loves to brag about their conquests. When their softball team plays an ad agency, Danny meets Debbie (Demi Moore) and there is instant mutual attraction. They run into one another again at a bar that night, and wind up spending the night together. Despite the fact that Bernie and Debbie's roommate Joan (Elizabeth Perkins) tell them that they should know better, Debbie and Danny begin to see more and more of one another, and within a short time, Debbie moves in with Danny. At first, it's fun, as they enjoy meals (and other things) together and Debbie redecorates the place. But, soon, the pressures of having a real relationship begins to get to them.

It's interesting that I just watched thirtysomething: The Complete First Season, as About Last Night... was apparently Ed Zwick's warm-up for that ground-breaking show. Both deal with relationships in a realistic and frank manner. Each is devoted to bringing as much dramatic, yet real dialogue into the production as possible. While thirtysomething was co-created by Zwick, who oversaw a stable of writers, About Last Night... is based on a play by David Mamet. While I haven't seen the play, I must assume that much of the dialogue is carried over from the original production.

The main difference between About Last Night... and thirtysomething is that the film wants to be a comedy. While there is a great deal of drama happening (more on that in a moment), it never tries to hide the fact that Jim Belushi, and to an extent Elizabeth Perkins, are there for comic relief. Clearly Bernie and Joan are meant to be the yang to the yin of their same-sex compatriots, but both also get the bulk of the good comedic lines in the film. In this way, the film straddles the line between drama and comedy.

The problem with About Last Night... is that, despite trying very hard, it never finds its groove. We essentially have three movies happening here. First, there is the core of the film, which wants to take a realistic look at relationships. Despite the warnings from their friends, Danny and Debbie move into together too quickly and they suffer for it. Their flirtation (although a bit cheesy) feels real, but it's their fights which sound as if they were dictated from an actual argument. It's these scenes which feel as if they are laying the groundwork for thirtysomething. Then, we have the movie that James Belushi is in. Bernie goes far beyond being the loud-mouthed side-kick -- he is in a far more, brash and loud movie which is all away sex jokes and being shocking. And then we have the not one, not two, but three musical montages. I know that this was a staple of 80s movies, but three is way too much, especially for a movie like this which is trying to present a more emotional and intellectual view. I know that this was his first feature film, but when the third montage started, I thought to myself, "This is from lauded filmmaker Ed Zwick?"

Despite its flaws, About Last Night... is still a nice snapshot of the 80s. We see Rob Lowe at his peak, and for those who are interested, there's ample nudity from Demi Moore. The movie may never gel, but it does have some funny moments and kudos to it for avoiding the fantasy world and trying to show how relationships really are...although I've never had a musical montage in real life.

About Last Night... uses a ridiculously big softball on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The transfer delivers a mixed bag. It's very sharp and clear at times, most notably the softball game scenes, but it's very grainy at others. At one point my wife said, "My old tape looked better than this." The colors are pretty good, but for the most part, the image is somewhat dark. Despite all of this, the level of detail is quite good for a film this old, and we can clearly see blemishes on the actor's faces. The Disc offers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.3 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides some nice stereo effects, most notably during the bar scenes. Other than that, the surround is weak, and subwoofer is non-existent. The bright spot here is the in-film music which does exhibit some rear-speaker action and nice bass.

The About Last Night... Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. "Ed Zwick and Rob Lowe in Conversation" (42 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like. The director and the actor reminisce about the making of the film for the get-go. Beginning with casting and auditions, they talk about many facets of the film's production. This is a great talk because, unlike most of these things, they actually name names and we hear fascinating stories about other actors who auditioned for key roles. "Original Making-of Featurette" (7 minutes) is an antiquated EPK which is made up mostly of clips. But we do get some comments from the cast, and it's worth checking out just to see young Ed Zwick.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long