I really wanted to love this movie. It stars two of the funniest television actors of the past 10 years, who happen to be two of my favorite actors ever. So it’s got to be great, right? Eh… not so much. Date Night is just OK, which is disappointing. Nothing about this movie is particularly bad or unfunny, it’s just not particularly great or hysterical. I expected so much more from a Steve Carell-Tina Fey team up. Maybe my expectations were too high.
Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, an average New Jersey couple whose marriage has become dull and monotonous. In a bid to spice up their weekly date night, they venture into NYC to eat at a hip Manhattan restaurant. The set up takes a decidedly Seinfeldesque tone (Unable to get a table, they steal another couple’s reservation when they don’t show. Several people they meet after dinner find this to be the worst social offense someone could commit.), and then veers into the realm of action-comedy.
The best parts of Date Night are when Carell and Fey are able to ad lib. They’re both talented actors and great at thinking on their feet. This really comes through in the few scenes where they’re given the freedom to do so. Everything else is good, but feels weak by comparison. It’s the same issue I had with Baby Mama— had Fey been involved in the writing, it probably would have been a much stronger movie. But is Tina Fey the writer the only person who can truly make Tina Fey the actor shine? I hope not, because I want to see her on screen more and in better stuff. It’s impossible to expect her to do everything (and it doesn’t bode well for her career in general). Steve Carell, on the other hand, plays it safe here. He’s doing what he does best, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before in better comedies. Honestly, I feel like his character could have been played by almost any comedic actor. But then this wouldn’t have been the Carell-Fey dream team that so many people have been waiting for.
Still, here’s hoping these two become the next Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore or Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan and make something else together. Something spectacular, and much more deserving of their talents. Please?
I only have myself to blame for not liking Date Night as much as I should have. My expectations for this film were huge. It had two of my favourite television personalities in a feature film, how could I not have massive expectations for this film? Liz Lemon and Michael Scott playing a married couple led me to believe this was likely going to be the greatest comedy of all time. The fact it was just really good, was a bit of a letdown.
The film follows Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey), a married couple who seem to be stuck in a rut. They go on the same date night every week and order the same meal at the same restaurant. When some close friends of theirs (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) announce they are getting divorced, Phil and Claire want to spice up their marriage a little bit. They decide to ramp up their usual date night by venturing into Manhattan for dinner. Through a series of misunderstandings, they are mistaken for a couple of low level blackmailers (James Franco and Mila Kunis) and have to run for their life.
This film is very funny and has a fantastic cast. Outside of the two amazing leads, Franco and Kunis are very funny as the crooked Tripplehorns who seem more upset that Phil and Claire stole their dinner reservation than the fact they’ve led a couple of crooked cops to their home. Mark Wahlberg also turns up as a former client of Claire’s that they use to find information. Also keep an eye out for Gal Gadot (the future cinematic Wonder Woman) as Wahlberg’s sexy lover.
The funniest parts of this film are when Fey and Carell are able to ad-lib. The funniest scenes are when they are inventing conversations for their fellow restaurant goers. I’d have liked to see more ad-libbing from these two, who are clearly great at it. Fey and Carell had no input into this script, which I think was a mistake. When you have these two brilliant comedians on hand, I’d sure be taking more advantage of it than they seemed too.
This film is still very funny, it’s just not the best comedy of all time. When this calibre of talent is involved, it probably should have been. As it is, Date Night is just a very solid comedy.