Starring Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Mark Wahlberg. Directed by Shawn Levy. 101 minutes. PG
Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Is it possible to go wrong? Actually, yeah. Not that this film wasn’t funny but that it wasn’t hilarious shows how horribly wrong it could have gone. Really, when you think about it, putting together two of the biggest names in comedy could end up being a horrible wreck if they just don’t mesh. Luckily, they did. Unluckily, it could have been funnier.
In Date Night, metro-boulot-dodo couple Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey, respectively) are tired of their redundant lives. They go to work (metro), they work (boulot), they sleep (dodo). That is until they spontaneously decide to spice up Friday night date night, upon hearing that married friends of theirs are getting divorced (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig). So they pick the trendiest restaurant in town. Problem is, since it’s so hip and since they’re so not, they can’t get a table. But when the Tripplehorns (James Franco and Mila Kunis) miss their table, Phil decides to roleplay and Phil and Claire assume the roles of the Tripplehorns, stealing their table. Turns out, the Tripplehorns are being targetted by a mobster (Ray Liotta) and after being confronted by his thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson), the Fosters are on the run. Along the way, the meet the Tripplehorns, seek the advice of security expert Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg), steal and smash some cars, and perform in a strip club. So much for being ordinary Joe and Jane.
Going into this film, expectations are obviously high. I need only mention The Office and 30 Rock, though I could also mention a whole lot more, like SNL, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Mean Girls and Little Miss Sunshine. This is exactly the reason why we expect to be laughing to tears and when we’re not, feel a little disappointed.
As previously mentioned, Carell and Fey actually make a great faux couple. They’re believeable. But the pressure is palpable. They ad-libbed a lot in the film but there was the sense that they were actually trying to be funny. And they probably felt the need to with their reps. And like I said, we expected it. So it did seem a bit forced at times and didn’t always work but when it did, it was worth it. Not Office worth it or SNL worth it, but worth it enough.
What works about this film is its fast pace. In a series of short, quick and painful scenarios, the Fosters fumble their way through the city at night and seem to breeze by in the extended hour and 40 some odd minutes. You’re right there alongside them in the stolen Audi. B
EXTRAS: Bloopers, behind-the-scenes with Shawn Levy, deleted and alternate scenes.