It’s well documented that none of the so-called Brat Pack enjoyed a particularly easy ride – both professionally and personally – after their imperial 1983-1985 period (though many have made fascinating recent late-career comebacks, but that’s a whole ‘nother article…).
Demi Moore and Rob Lowe were less than a year on from the enormo-hit ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ when they co-starred in ‘About Last Night…’, one of the least well-known but best films of their entire careers and a movie your correspondent returns to every three or four years and always enjoys.
Based on David Mamet’s 1974 play ‘Sexual Perversion In Chicago’ and directed by future ‘thirtysomething’ TV show co-creator Edward Zwick, it concerns the social lives of four young, fresh-out-of-college twentysomethings (erroneously described as ‘yuppies’ in some reviews of the film), struggling to commit to relationships while navigating AIDS and post-adolescence loneliness.
Lowe plays Dan, enjoying a relatively carefree existence of one-night stands, drinking games and weekend softball, spurred on by his constant, crass companion Bernie, played excellently by James Belushi. That’s until he meets Debbie, nicely portrayed by Moore – he’s instantly smitten, totally tongue-tied. The problem is they’re totally mismatched.
The result is funny and sad, a kind of down-at-heel ‘When Harry Met Sally’ or freewheeling/comic ‘Nine Half Weeks’. The Chicago setting roots the movie in an agreeably specific milieu. Lowe acts his little socks off in surely the best performance of his career. Elizabeth Perkins, in her screen debut a few years before her big breakthrough with Tom Hanks in ‘Big’, is an absolute hoot as Debbie’s best friend.
Much of Mamet’s original dialogue is retained (though the role of Bernie is drastically reduced) resulting in several classic scenes and some coruscating one-liners. Sadly the movie doesn’t quite have courage of its convictions though – it occasionally cops-out with a few MTV-style montages and superfluous, ‘shocking’ nudity.
But ‘About Last Night…’ is extremely subtle in its depiction of a relationship that never really had a chance (or did it? Watch right through to the end…) and bears repeated viewings. The film was a success in the box office too, grossing nearly $40 million against a budget of $9 million, and earning glowing reviews from Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael.
Oh, and it was remade in 2014…