Review: Date Night
PLOT: Phil (Steve Carell), and Claire (Tina Fey) Foster are just your average, run-of-the mill couple, for whom the spark has gone out of their marriage. In an effort to bring some excitement into their lives, they decide to go out for a night on the town. While trying to get into a fancy restaurant, they steal another couple's reservation, not knowing that the couple in question is actually on the run from the mob for stealing a flash drive containing evidence that could send the city's big crime boss (Ray Liotta) to jail. Soon, Phil & Claire find themselves on the run from a pair of dirty cops (Common & Jimmi Simpson) who are hell bent on retrieving the drive.
REVIEW: DATE NIGHT is yet another slick, big studio comedy from director Shawn Levy. For the most part, I'm not a huge Levy fan, although I enjoyed his last NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, mostly due to the great Amy Adams. I think he's a talented enough guy, but his films are a little too cookie cutter for my tastes and DATE NIGHT is a perfect example of this.
Both Steve Carell, and Tina Fey are extraordinarily talented comedians- on TV. The big screen is another thing altogether. Carell's made a few classics (40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, ANCHORMAN), but lately he's had a bad run of films (EVAN ALMIGHTY & GET SMART), while Fey's great as long as she's doing her own material (BABY MAMA, MEAN GIRLS). Sure enough, the two do have some one genuine chemistry, but once again, they've been slotted into a low-brow, PG-13 big studio comedy that lacks the wit that makes their TV shows (THE OFFICE & 30 ROCK) so great.
My big problem with DATE NIGHT is that it's just not all that funny. Way too much time is spent on big, loud action set pieces, such as an extended car-chase through Manhattan which would be fine if I wasn't watching a comedy. Carell and Fey manage to wring a few laughs out of the material just by being themselves, but, really, the only big laughs in the film come from the numerous cameos. James Franco and Mila Kunis have one pretty funny scene as the couple who made the initial reservation that got the Fosters into their predicament, but that's probably the only part of the film that actually made me laugh. Mark Wahlberg also has a fairly amusing extended cameo as a former client of Claire's, to whom the couple comes for help. Wahlberg does a good job taking the piss out of his action roles, as he spends all of his scenes shirtless, much to Carell's annoyance (culminating in the obligatory PG-13, single use of the word fuck).
I just wish the filmmakers had been less focused on delivering a film that feels like it was designed to make for a slick trailer, rather than a fun film. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen everything that's good about it, and the rest of the movie is just filler. Despite a short eighty-eight minute run-time, the film still seems long- and by the end it had really worn out it's welcome. I have no doubt that DATE NIGHT will be a hit, but it just feels like a piece of fluff that's below the talents of everyone involved. I'd love to see Carell and Fey re-team on something a little more inspired one day, as they really do play well off each other. However, DATE NIGHT is just a big waste of time, and if you like the two stars, you'd be better off staying home, and watching OFFICE and 30 ROCK re-runs.
While, DATE NIGHT isn't offensively bad (it's way better than something like THE BOUNTY HUNTER), it's just not as funny as it should have been, and it feels just feels like a movie designed as a cash machine, with little real entertainment value other than a couple of cameos, and about a half dozen chuckles. It's a shame though, as this could have been a truly funny film had it not been thrown together in such a seemingly half-assed way.
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