Double Feature – “Robocop” and “About Last Night”
By Bob Garver
As of Sunday, new releases “Robocop” and “About Last Night” ended the weekend in a virtual tie at around $27 million each since their respective openings. It should be noted, however, that “Robocop” squandered several advantages, including a two-day head start (it opened on Wednesday instead of Friday) and a wider distribution by over 1,000 screens. There is little doubt that “About Last Night” was the real winner, but I paid to see both films, so I’m going to pretend it was a tie and review them both.
The 1987 “Robocop” is by no means flawless, but at least it was fun. The action scenes were creative, the villains had personality, the robot jokes landed and there was that great catchphrase about getting an excellent deal on hedonism. In the 2014 remake, the choppy action scenes are going to give people seizures, the villains are either dull or not that villainous, the robot jokes are almost nonexistent and the catchphrase is turned negative and drained of life.
Joel Kinnaman stars as a Detroit cop on the verge of making a huge bust when he’s severely injured by a car bomb. An inch from death, he’s saved by a scientist (Gary Oldman) who integrates his few remaining human parts with a robotic super-suit that lets him fight crime more efficiently. Oldman does this at the behest of his greedy corporate boss (Michael Keaton) who wants to release a line of robotic cops with human consciences (so he can get around a law that prohibits him from just using robots) into the population.
The Keaton character’s evil traits are basically greed and sneakiness, but he needs to be more dangerous. The only person he really wants to kill is Robocop, who he honestly regards as little more than a malfunctioning computer program. Keaton actually shows potential to make a fun villain, but there’s just not that much to the role. Like everything else in “Robocop,” it’s a wasted opportunity.
One Star out of Five.
“Robocop” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material. Its running time is 108 minutes.
“About Last Night”
“About Last Night” is an updated version of a David Mamet play, and that works to its advantage. The characters engage in long, stage-like conversations that make us feel like we’re really getting to know these people, even if they aren’t people we want to get to know. It also doesn’t hurt that the actors have good chemistry and a lot of the jokes are effective.
The film follows two couples, Danny and Debbie (Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant) and Bernie and Joan (Kevin Hart and Regina Hall). Bernie and Joan introduce Danny and Debbie, only to quickly break up and spend the rest of the movie snapping at each other while they flank their friends to bars and parties. Danny and Debbie, meanwhile, are determined to avoid the mistakes of their impulsive friends and pursue a more serious relationship. But eventually this too runs into trouble.
The storylines about the relationships are fairly standard and predictable. What people are really going to remember from this film are the conversations. The date scenes and the fights play just fine, but the main attraction is the constant sex talk in the conversations between friends. The date recaps and sexual theories get really graphic. A lot of it is funny (this movie actually makes me understand why Kevin Hart is a popular comedian where “Ride Along” definitely didn’t), but some of it gets uncomfortable. If you can handle a lot of over-the-top sexual banter, you should see this film, but if you find it unappealing, you’re not going to find much here for you.
Two Stars out of Five.
“About Last Night” is rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use. Its running time is 100 minutes.
Contact Bob Garver at firstname.lastname@example.org.