Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Movie Review Date Night

You can’t get two more talented comics to star in a movie than Tina Fey and Steve Carell. They exude humor and comic timing from their very pores. Knowing this the anticipation for the laugh-fest that was sure to be their new movie “Date Night” was high. What the film turned out to be is a good movie but not a great one. Or as someone in the audience put it, a delicious meal with some necessary mysterious ingredient left out.The movie concerns a New Jersey couple named Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey). She sells real estate and he acts as a financial planner. They are a loving couple but a boring one. They have a date night once a week that involves going to a local restaurant and eating the same meal over and over. When two of their closest friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristin Wiig) announce they are splitting up, it is a wake up call for the Fosters.

They decide to go into the city for their “date night” and to eat at one of the town’s most exclusive restaurants. When they find they can’t get a table they impulsively pretend to be a couple whose name is being called. While sitting at the table they are approached by two guys who escort them out of the restaurant and into an alley. There they threaten them if they do not give a “fast drive” back. When they try to argue that it is all a case of mistaken identity the thugs are not buying it.The rest of the movie is spent with the Fosters trying to stay alive and also to get the thugs off their backs. This means gun battles and car chases, as well as a visit to a strip club. Most of the scenes are funny but there are a few dry spots in between the action.

Fey is a little bit brittle in her portrayal of Claire while Carell is all soft and gooey as Phil. Both characterizations are fine but they do not blend with each other. We never see these two as a couple but rather as two funny individuals. If they had managed to become a believable couple the movie would have had more heart.The supporting cast in the film is solid with Mark Wahlberg being outstanding as a former client of Claire’s who tries to help them out. Also good are Mila Kunis and James Franco as the couple the Fosters impersonate. J. B. Smoove is standout hilarious as the cab driver the Fosters hijack.

The film is rated a surprising PG-13. It contains scenes of simulated sex, extensive profanity including multiple uses of the “F” word, and some violence. So parents be warned!
Tina Fey and Steve Carell are funny people in this movie about a hard day’s night for an ordinary couple. Still they are each operating within their own sphere and never cross over to unite as a team. It doesn’t ruin the movie but it does make it less than it should be.

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