I like both Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. More correctly, I admire their talents, but I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of either comedian.
That’s kind of the way I felt with their collaborative effort, Date Night. It’s pretty good and I liked the jokes, but it’s not a film I’d really want to see again. There was nothing wrong with it, but for some reason I just don’t like it as much as I thought I would.
Date Night is directed by Shawn Levy, who was at the helm of one my most hated movies of all time, Just Married, though he did do better with Night at the Museum.
It tells the story of the Fosters, a married couple (Carrell and Fey) with two kids who find their lives becoming too routine, predictable and boring. But then, on a night out in an attempt to spice up their old romance, the couple become the victims of mistaken identity, which then spirals into a wild and ridiculous ride with hilarious consequences.
It’s one of those films with a decent premise that is more revealing about human nature and real life than we would like to think (with all the stuff about married couples becoming “roommates” over time), but at the same time so many of the jokes are just so outrageous and insane that it’s impossible to take the film seriously. I won’t ruin the jokes by hinting at what they are, but there were more than a few sequences when I laughed hard and loud.
Date Night’s biggest strength is the comedic pairing of Carrell and Fey, who are both experienced and charismatic performers with the ability to improvise. As evident from the credits scenes, these two ad-libbed a lot of their lines and a lot of them were probably better than the scripted dialogue.
The second biggest strength of Date Night is the awesome supporting cast. I absolutely loved all the names in there, from James Franco and Mila Kunis to Leighton Meester, Mark Ruffalo, Ray Liotta, William Fichtner, JB Smoove, and of course Marky Mark Wahlberg. Each added a different comedic element to the film and elevated the film several levels above what Carrell and Fey would have been able to do on their own.
Having said all of that, I don’t think Date Night will go down as a particularly memorable film in the annals of comedy cinema. It is very funny at times, but there’s nothing about it that stands out as especially outstanding. Maybe it’s because I simply don’t like Carrell and Fey enough, and I don’t know why.
3.5 stars out of 5