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About Men, Women, Love

At the Movies

By Cristina V. Coletta

About Last Night

Directed by

At The USA Cheri

"IT'S ABOUT MEN. It's about women. It's about love. It's about sex. It's about commitment." Covering all major areas of interest for anyone between the ages of 10 and 100, the ad copy for About Last Night, the screen adaptation of the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago should, in theory, attract the masses into watching the romance of Danny (Rob Lowe) and Debbie (Demi Moore) flicker across the big screen.

The combination of heart throbs Lowe and Moore, the comic onscreen presence of Jim Belushi as Danny's beerguzzling good-ole-boy buddy and some great Ferris Buelleresque Chicago locations is certainly sufficient to safeguard the film's mainstream appeal. But if the only image that remains after the film is that of Moore and Lowe doing the deed everywhere from in the shower to on the carpet in front of Danny's double headphone stereo system to in a bean bag chair, you missed Mamet's point about relationships in the 80's.

Truth be told--and many critics have lost no time in pointing this out--the thematic wholemeal of the play centers around the singles scene of the 70's and not of the 80's, which as we all know is a far more conservative decade in terms of sexual encounters and the one night stand. But in About Last Night, the intial meeting between Danny and Debbie has been altered so that it seems almost acceptable and proprietous as opposed to the hard, no commitment tenor of their meeting in the play.

The film opens on a baseball field where Danny and Bernie, girlfriendless at the moment but certainly not lacking in female company, if you know what I mean, are busy showing themselves off to the lovelies watching from the bleachers. Across an uncrowded baseball field, Danny spots Debbie, a young advertising executive out to watch her lover/boss run around the bases. When they meet later on at Mother's, a local bar/singles hangout, they "can't help noticing that they weren't noticing each other." One thing doesn't really seem to lead to another, but somehow Debbie ends up in Danny's bed.

It could have all ended there, but then only 20 minutes have passed, and we've clearly got some more coming. We sit by while Debbie tries to get dressed in the dark, scramble around for her keys and shoes--scattered in various corners of the room obviously due to some relatively energetic lovemaking--and then become profoundly embarassed when her ertswhile sexual partner stumbles to the door in his pjs and offers to drive her home. "Oh, no, that's okay," she tries to stutter with some self-respect, "I can get home by myself. Well, bye." This will certainly never go down as one of the great love story good byes.

We move from sex to romance when Danny calls. "I was pretty drunk last night," she giggles, "Did anything happen?" "No," says Romeo, "Would you like to try it again tonight?" You guess where they end up after a few drinks at Mother's--dare we call it their place--and just what they end up doing?

It takes a few more dates and some sexual politicking, but they make the big decision to move in together, much to the disgust of Bernie and Debbie's no nonsense kindergarten teacher by day/nymphomaniac by night roommate Joan (Elizabeth Perkins).

Well, they paint the apartment, take turns cooking dinner for each other, go shopping for clothes together, and cook Thanksgiving dinner, but something's clearly missing, as Debbie discovers one night when she sifts through Danny's desk drawers in order to find out more about him. Looking at photos of a high school aged Danny posing for pictures before the prom with a girl whose name she didn't know in a house she's never seen with parents she's never spoken to, Debbie bursts out crying. "I don't like not knowing you," she sobs, "I want us to be a couple." But it's soon apparent that the journey backwards from sex to love to commitment necessarily pushes obstacles in the way of coupling.

Debbie is more organized, and most eager to emotionally involve herself in every aspect of Danny's life. Danny is definitely undependable from any standpoint. When he's with Bernie, he's all ready to cruise chicks and discuss whether they're "professional" or not. When he's with Debbie, he's ready for some mushy romance. One of them has got to change before the relationship can work.

As the plot takes a few predictable and a few less predictable turns, we aren't left to wonder much longer. But no hints here. The performances, especially from the up to now singularly untalented Lowe, merit a trip to Boston to see for yourself.

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