What do you get when you combine the two hottest actors working on the two funniest sitcoms on television? You hope for the answer to that question to be more than a reluctant shrug, but here we are. Combining Steve Carell and Tina Fey should make for a hilarious and fun adventure, but the material in Date Night simply isn't there and doesn't accommodate their talents.
Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple who go about their humdrum lives repeating the same menial tasks daily. They spend their days at work and come home to two young children who occupy their lives at night. Their sex life is basically non-existent, though they try to keep things fresh by having a date night every so often. After they learn that their two best friends are going to get a divorce, they decide to make their next date night extra special and travel to New York for an evening at a fancy restaurant. However, they didn't call in a reservation beforehand and their chances of getting a table are slim. Fortunately for them, a couple by the name of Triplehorn hasn't shown up for their reservations, so the Fosters pretend to be them and take their table. What happens next is less fortunate. Two thugs show up claiming that they have stolen a prized possession from them and want it back. It's a case of mistaken identity and the Foster's find themselves in more trouble than they could imagine.
The premise of a couple seeking excitement only to run into more excitement than they bargained for is nothing new in the world of cinema. In fact, it's been played out by this point. Date Night is merely another blip on the radar of the tired subgenre, featuring mediocre writing and a ridiculous plot that nobody could take seriously. But the dream pair-up of Carell and Fey, two of the funniest people working in Hollywood today, do more than enough to salvage it. This movie works because of them. Without them, it fails.
Their chemistry together--romantic and comedic--is second to none. Their witty banter back and forth is a blast to listen to and they are capable of taking jokes that really aren't that funny and making them so. Considering how hilarious their two shows, The Office and 30 Rock, are, it's shocking how long it took someone to realize how perfect they would be together on the big screen.
Still, this movie is merely tolerable, far from what a movie starring the two should be. Where's the heart? Where's the emotion? Date Night tries to include some, but the outlandish situations the two find themselves in don't lend well to emotion. When you have Carell climbing onto the front of a speeding car and diving into another one, you start to get too far away from reality and the heartfelt conversations start to feel kind of pointless.
What else is there to say, really? Humor is subjective and opinions on the movie will surely be split. I'm not even completely sure how I feel about it. It's one of those rare films that I walked out of and didn't feel like discussing or analyzing. I only wanted to get home so I could write this and get it out of my mind. I'll revisit it one day just to spend more time with the charismatic actors, but the mediocrity of the movie may make it a long before that happens.
Date Night receives 2.5/5
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