Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis
MPAA Rating: (for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference)
Running Time: 1:28
Release Date: 4/9/10
Review by Mark Dujsik | April 8, 2010
Two comedians walk
into a thriller. The thriller goes
about its business, while the comedians improvise some witty one-liners.
There's a strange
discrepancy between the two most important parts of Date
Night. On the one hand, the
movie presents the old standby thriller plot of mistaken identity with the
supporting and ancillary characters playing their roles with sincerity toward
that end (with a couple exceptions). The
good cops investigate. The bad cops
hunt and shoot. The mob leader threatens. The politician corrupts
On the other, the
movie puts Steve Carell and Tina Fey in the roles of the wrongfully identified
couple. The two are funny enough as
a couple whose marriage has lost its spark and find themselves in an outlandish
series of misadventures after a relatively innocent attempt to have a nice night
out in New York City. They bicker
and comment on the goings-on around them, in lines one might suspect are
unscripted and which the outtakes at the end confirm mostly are.
The two aims of Date
Night never merge into one. Both
sides do their thing, and each seems an annoyance to the other.
After a night of
book club, the Fosters, Phil and Claire (Carell and Fey), learn that one of
their married-couple friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig, in the first of a
few nicely casted cameos that just happen to be credited) have separated. Fearing a similar fate, Phil decides to take his wife out on the town to
a fancy restaurant she's always wanted to try.
Being a Friday
night and without having booked reservations in advance, Phil and Claire are
relegated to the bar, where Phil impulsively takes the table of another couple
who has skipped out on their booking. Unfortunately,
a couple of goons (Jimmi Simpson and Common) are looking for this no-show
couple, who have stolen a flash drive with important, incriminating information
from a mob boss (an uncredited cameo best left to be discovered).
The plot kicks into
autopilot almost immediately, as the goons, corrupt cops, chase them around the
city, another on-the-straight-and-narrow detective (Taraji P. Henson) tries to
find out the details of the misunderstanding to help the Fosters, and the hunt
for the MacGuffin of a flash drive brings the Fosters to all kinds of semi-kooky
The movie gets its
best moments from some of them. The
appearance of the mob boss (not as big a cameo as one might expect, but he
certainly has a rep for the gangster material) is worth a solid guffaw. Wiig's fantasies of a new sex life are the things of Claire's nightmares.
Mark Wahlberg appears in a few
scenes as a security expert with high-tech computers. He is endlessly shirtless, a joke that's funny enough on its own without
Phil's final, predictable plea to him (The laugh comes before the punchline).
Rounding the short
appearances up are James Franco and Mila Kunis as the actual couple for whom
everyone is looking, who are using the name the Foster's stole as a front anyway.
Their scene, as a delinquent
pair named Taste and Whippit, is the movie's funniest. The obvious distance between the two main thrusts of the movie shortens
immeasurably in the scene. Yes, it's
about the flash drive and, hence, the plot, but Carell and Fey and Franco and
Kunis never admit such. In this
scene, all four and director Shawn Levy recognize the thriller and its trappings
are meaningless and simply let the actors have at it. For a moment, the movie is a comedy about how pointless the thriller
angle is and not a thriller with a few funny bits thrown in here and there.
They are generally
likeable and amusing, but for the most part, Carell and Fey are in a different
movie altogether. Nothing happening
around them appears to affect them. When
one of the goons points a gun in his face, Carell jokes it up about how the thug
is pointing the gun. While trying to
find the blackmailers phone number on the restaurant's ledger, they assume a
snooty guise and demeanor. In trying
to talk with the corrupt politician (William Fichtner), they have to do a
striptease and show just how out-of-touch their concept of sexy is and how
deranged the politician's. During
the climactic rooftop showdown, the participants fight, and Carell pops his head
in to crack wise about their macho statements of power.
Levy gives the
movie a sleek grime common to an imposing, after-hours Big Apple, which
highlights the divergence of material, and a chase scene with the Fosters' car
attached to a cab is a bit embarrassing.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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