BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 29, 2010
Please take what you think about “Date Night” and toss it out the window. Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) have a boring marriage. When their book club friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) whisper that they are better roommates than they are lovers, Phil and Claire turn to their relationship and wonder if they need to spice things up to avoid the same fate. In their attempt, they venture from New Jersey to downtown New York to eat at the hippest new restaurant. After they acquire a different couple’s reservation, a night of chases and wrongful identities ensues, showing them that their dull lives back in New Jersey are not so bad.
Worth only one viewing, the pairing of Steve Carell and Tina Fey sounds good on paper, but the dynamic between the two stars falls short in action. “Date Night” does, however, aim at an older, more experienced age group than mine, targeting the married couples that can relate to the out-of-touch partners of Carell and Fey. Both actors had well-established careers before Date Night, but the film fails to hold any lasting impression.
“Date Night” was made for cameos, or so it appears, with many big names filling the screen for only a few minutes at a time. The cameo by Mark Wahlberg is the highlight of the film. Wahlberg’s dialogue overshadows the lead character’s lines, and even the interaction between the odd couple and Wahlberg produces some of the film’s greatest moments. James Franco and Mila Kunis also deliver memorable cameos, proving that the film should have focused on them instead.
“Date Night” never feels grounded. The film comes off tacky and unoriginal, though still mainstream and made for an older age group. The idea of a married couple getting mixed up in a blackmailing crime for stealing reservations in an attempt to escape their old life is downright laughable and unrealistic. You could overlook the plot if Carell and Fey’s dialogue were hilarious. Still, the funniest parts are in the trailer with only a handful of humorous lines (“I’m going to go home and fart into a shoe box”).
“Date Night” had tremendous potential, with a great cast and action sequences galore, including a high-speed chase down a busy New York street with two cars attached at their bumpers, all while a high-pitched screaming black cabbie is stuck along for the ride, but instead, the film fell flat. Be warned that this film may not hit home for you unless you are a married couple stuck in the same routine. And even if you are that married couple with a pattern, “Date Night” will scare you away from even the idea of having a night together alone. The moral of the story is: never steal anyone’s reservations, or you will never hear the end of it.
April 9, 2010
20th Century Fox
(for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference)
Taraji P. Henson