Saturday, April 10, 2010

Date Night

DATE NIGHT (Shawn Levy, 2010)

When their seemingly happy friends split up, the Fosters question if their relationship is showing similar signs of strain. Looking to add a little spice into their routine marriage, Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) head from New Jersey to the big city in DATE NIGHT. The Fosters arrive too late to get a table at a trendy New York City restaurant, but an emboldened Phil claims the reservation of the Tripplehorns, a couple who don't appear to be at the fine dining establishment.

The date night is going very well until two shady characters ask the Fosters to accompany them to the alley. They believe the Fosters are the Tripplehorns, who took something from someone you don't want to steal from. Thus begins a crazy evening for the suburban parents as they run for their lives.

Carell and Fey make a believable couple who are comfortable with one another yet worry that they've settled into a safe but boring marriage. DATE NIGHT'S undercurrent of quiet panic fleshes out the Fosters more than other comedies attempt to do, and it goes a long way in making them relatable. Unfortunately, DATE NIGHT takes two funny people, puts them in unfunny situations, and has them do and say unfunny things.

The comedy is disappointingly lousy rather than aggressively bad. Carell and Fey give their best effort and salvage occasional scenes. When they pose as a hipster couple to obtain a crucial telephone number, the actors find laughs in looking foolish and behaving with false confidence they've not shown to that point.

Carell and Fey can only do so much with this material. It's telling that some of the ad libs in the outtakes during the credits are funnier than what's in the proper movie. Who needs the lame thriller and action elements when these two performers can be funny themselves?

Grade: D+

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