Friday, February 18, 2011

Date Night

Directed by Shawn Levy.
2010. Rated PG-13, 88 minutes.
Steve Carell
Tina Fey
Taraji P. Henson
Mark Wahlberg
Jimmi Simpson
William Fichtner
Ray Liotta
Mark Ruffalo
Kristen Wiig
James Franco
Mila Kunis

Phil (Carell) and Claire Foster (Fey) are stuck in a rut. They’ve been married seemingly forever and have settled into a monotonous routine. To spice things up, they decide to go to a chic new seafood joint. Through a case of mistaken identity, they suddenly find themselves on the run from some very bad people who wouldn’t mind seeing them dead.

Yes, Steve Carell and Tina Fey are our headliners. However, aside from that, nothing about this movie screams comedy. The opening scenes where we get to know our lawfully wedded heroes are more sad than funny. They may even be too familiar for some of us. The rest of the movie plays like a chase movie. The focus is in the wrong place. We see them doing a lot of things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, which is fine. However, the focus is on the action scenes that result from this and not the humor. The comedy complements the action flick when it should be the other way around.

When it does give the action a break, it does comedy very well. Mark Wahlberg’s first scene is all sorts of funny. For my money, its easily the best in the movie. The scene with James Franco and Mila Kunis is also very good. Occasionally, the two stars get to cut loose, as well. Their impromptu dance scene is the best one that centers on them. Mostly, they are at their finest when reacting to the other zany characters on the screen.

In the end, the loving couple has certainly had an adventure. Still, we can’t tell if this makes them more or less likely to venture out of their comfort zone in the future. Finding this out seems to be the point of the movie, but we don’t get an answer. We merely get that it happened. It’s not quite funny enough or packed with enough action to ignore its shortcomings. Despite an excellent and very game cast, and despite some excellent scenes of both comedy and action, Date Night adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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