It’s almost shocking that no one thought to make a comedy staring Steve Carell and Tina Fey until now. It’s just too bad that Date Night was the movie that this perfect team was paired up to helm. Shawn Levy’s film of a bored New Jersey couple that steals another couple’s dinner reservation lacks the humor to support these two powerhouse comedians. He is more inclined to direct family comedies such as both Night at the Museum films, Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther.
In Date Night, Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey) are your average middle class married couple with two kids and demanding jobs that seem to lack the free time and energy to break from the routine of their day to day. After noticing their married friends suffer from the same situation and are separating they decide to do something different to add something new to their lives.
Up into this point in the plot is engaging and entertaining. But when it becomes another film, we are left with only concessions to give any sense of comfort.
The Fosters attend a very chic restaurant, where it is impossible to get a table, (something that in New York may be commonplace but here in the Salt Lake valley is a very foreign concept.) When two thugs take them into the alley and threaten to kill them or hand over a flash drive the film no longer is a comedy but an action film that tries to use comedy as its vehicle. Well, it lacks to gas to make it very far.
The action that is thrown in feels very alien and poorly executed. The jokes feel timed, almost forced events that don’t really feel that spontaneous and off the cuff. At times they seem almost dumb downed for a younger crowd, oh yeah it’s PG-13.
Casting on Date Night was excellent and couldn’t be more than anyone would ask for, except Mark Wahlberg, how is this clown still acting? Most of the biggest name supporting actors had roles that where on screen for less than a handful of minutes. The cast was it’s best commodity and it was poorly used.
As for that irony I mentioned above. It saddens me to think of all the bored married couples that are going to go see this movie and be let down. Here is a concept that has great possibilities and a stellar cast but is a product of mediocre direction.
The hope is that this is not the last time we see Tina Fey and Steve Carell together in a movie. Their natural chemistry is too powerful to be deigned, or wasted. There is a saying that is tossed around in regards to films like this, “great idea, bad execution.”
Rated PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference.