Friday 23 April 2010

Review: Date Night

Year: 2010
Director: Shaun Levy
Screenplay: Josh Klausner
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey

Synopsis is here

I HATE safe movies! Blegh, the worst thing about safe movies like this is the middling reviews I write for them after I've seen them. I deal with extremes; good or bad, that's how it works with me. Date night has decided to stick it's tongue out and sit in the middle, lounging between interesting and irritating. Some critics have said it's good, others have said otherwise and for me, the film gyrates between the two. Date Night is one of those unassuming movies that merely exists for it's opening weekend before (presumably) evaporating into the either. A date movie you can take in on a Friday night with someone before you can address more pressing matters like their place or yours.

Starring two of the biggest comic actors on television at the current time; Date Night believes that overusing Fey's and Carell's usual shtick will guarantee laughs throughout the whole movie. Not so. As much as I enjoy the two performers on display and I did laugh sporadically throughout the duration, there just wasn't enough material to make this thing a truly memorable comedy. While I was happy that this movie wasn't clearly targeted at the frat boy/man child audiences that many Steve Carell films appear to be aiming for, there's only so much of that Carell shouting-the-obvious-with-a-straight-face-thing I can take. Fey is a different creature altogether, a talented writer (30 Rock, Mean Girls) and a actress with great comic timing, it's a shame that her best moments are the ad-libbed outtakes during the credits. Fey here is muted somewhat and while she is still an amusing watch, you are constantly wondering what SHE would do with the material and not Josh Klausner (Sherk 3, 4).

However, what the two do have is Chemistry and while the material isn't their best, the relationship that is shared is believable and at times sweet. It's watchable enough to get you through some of the weaker jokes that the film spews up.

Although director Shaun Levy doesn't go mad with the visuals or story telling in any way, he does manage to put together some nice scenes that work well with Fey and Carell. The short scene with James Franco and Mila Kunis is silly little diversion, while the centerpiece of the film -a car chase involving conjoined cars, is more enjoyable than it should be. Also, despite some of the films more "cheesier" moments, Date Night feels at times that the film could be aimed towards a more "adult" audience. I say that last line hesitantly but honestly, this isn't anchorman and despite being silly, the idea of a marital couple stuck in routine isn't really subject matter for Anchorman fans. Date Night takes note of that and if it wasn't for some of the jokes, this could have easily been aimed at the "older" market.

It's this unevenness that really upsets Date Night. At times it's feels like it should be targeted towards the tired couples it mimics, but is filled with jokes that may be a tad immature for them. The lead couple are fun, but don't stretch themselves at any point, and despite some OK moments (with one or two laugh out loud jokes), this is a film that even fans of Fey and Carell could easily miss with not too much worry. Those looking for after hours action should go back to it.