Old 04-19-2010, 03:08 PM
Shawn Levy's Date Night

Here's the link to the published version of the review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Date Night (2010)

"Date Night" pairs two of the most popular comedians working today for a night that neither of the main characters will ever forget. Before the night is over, they are threatened, shot at, chased, and humiliated, all because of one of those amazing plot devices simply known as the "mistaken identity." Amazing how one little mistake can go such a long way.

Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are married and have two kids. Their relationship seems to have lost that spark that made them passionate about each other in the first place, yet they still hold up the old tradition of having a "date night," where they go out to dinner alone. This would seem like a good thing, except they have gone to the same restaurant and ordered the same dish so many times that even their friends know where they go and what they get.

On one of their nights out, Phil decides to take his wife to a high-class restaurant in nearby New York City. They hope they can get a table, but unfortunately the restaurant is booked solid. When the hostess calls the name Tripplehorn, the Fosters decide to take the table because the Tripplehorns do not show up. This turns out to be a bad decision as a pair of thugs now believe that they are the Tripplehorns who have some property of their boss that has been stolen. This is merely the beginning of their bad night.

Throughout "Date Night," I was constantly reminded of the Martin Scorsese film "After Hours," which is another story of a night full of mishaps and mistaken identity. It was also a film that I didn't care for very much do to its overarching absurdities, which "Date Night" improves upon by making the story much more believable.

However, as believable as the story is, it's strange that the filmmakers didn't do more with the talent they had on hand. Steve Carell and Tina Fey can be extremely funny when given the right material. Carrel has his big hit "The Office" while Fey has her own big hit with "30 Rock," so you would think that a movie combining these two stars would be funnier than most.

Sadly, that's not really the case here. It certainly has a few funny moments, but not nearly enough to sustain the entire film, which only runs a very brief 88 minutes. They try to make the humor arise from the situation, but this is not a particularly funny situation, so it becomes a strange combination of trying to be funny while trying to be serious at the same time, which gives it a very odd tone.

Carell has a knack for dry humor that works well in some movies like "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Get Smart" (Personally, I've never seen it work well on "The Office"), and that's where most of the good parts of this film come from. Fey has her moments too and also has really good chemistry with Carell, but neither of them are able to bring the material up to the level it's going for.

They do what they can with it, and they portray a believable couple on-screen. They are also pleasant to watch due to their chemistry and their charm. I certainly hope that these two try to pair up again for another project, except next time I hope they choose one that allows their talent to really shine. 2.5/4 stars.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:48 PM
Like always,I'll have to judge this with my own bias. The review/rundown was good though,it's hard to review when stepping over "spoilers" I'm sure. This film is No. 10 on my Prio-Views 2010 list.
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