The Thursday night primetime line-up for NBC has two of the most likeable lead comedians to boost their ratings, so it makes perfect sense that Steve Carell and Tina Fey would eventually be teamed up in a feature film. Now without knowing anything about their new film Date Night, it’s safe to assume that there would be plenty of laughs to go around. The two stars have already proved their prowess in sketch and physical comedy in both their television shows and feature work, so it’s bankable that they’ll succeed here as well.
One of the greatest things about both Carell and Fey is that they come across as everyday folks. They appeal across the board, from parents to their teenage kids, creating intensely appealing characters that seem ordinary, but that are actually way funnier than your coworker or neighbor. All of these recognizable traits are put to good use in this new zany comedy from director Shawn Levy of the Night at the Museum franchise.
Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a normal middle-class married couple whose lives are consumed with their careers and young children, leaving them little time for any real romance. They try to keep some kind of functioning passion alive through date nights, but even those become mundane as they constantly frequent the same restaurant. However, after hearing that another couple (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) is breaking up after their relationship became more equivalent to roommates, the Foster’s are bound and determined to spice up their usual date nights.
Phil decides to take Claire to the hot, new restaurant in New York City she has been raving about as a surprise. After being turned away by the maître d’ for not booking a table months in advance, Phil unexpectedly takes the reservation of a no show couple. Unfortunately for the Fosters, the original reservation under the name Tripplehorns, leads to a run-in with some gangster- type of individuals that are looking to settle a score. As you might expect, mistaken identity and inability to contact law enforcement due to involvement with the seedy gangsters leads to a comical, action filled path of attempted resolution.
The Fosters definitely get more than then anticipated for by posing as the Tripplehorns, but thankfully for us, it leads to an array of great cameos and both Carell and Fey displaying their comic skills. There are some hilarious scenes including one with Mark Wahlberg playing a real estate client of Fey’s and an altercation with the real Tripplehorns, James Franco and Mila Kunis.
Although a decent script, it’s obvious that much of the leads’ lines were ad-libbed and that is exactly what this film needed to stand out. Carell and Fey deliver as a married couple striving to give their marriage that injection of excitement. Sometimes though, this interference of plot adventure waters down an otherwise hilarious duo, displaying their on-point comedic timing. If anything, Date Night exudes just what you need on a date; an easy, fun time.
Mirror Film Criticmark@smmirror.com