The new action comedy ‘Date Night’ unites two of the funniest comedians in Hollywood in their peak form – Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. Too bad the script wasn’t as funny they are in their respective TV shows. It really is all about the writing. Some jokes worked, other didn’t, therefore it felt choppy and inconsistent. The leads and cameos, by well known stars, were by far the highlights and the action sequences were mildly entertaining. Overall, not a bad film, but it could have been better.
The premise is very empathic. A case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple’s attempt at a glamorous and romantic evening in New York City, into the most thrilling and dangerous night of their lives. Mark Wahlberg guest stars as a security expert that helps them in their plight. James Franco and Mila Kunis do a cameo as a drug dealer named Taste and a stripper called Whippit, known as ‘The Tripplehorns’, amongst others. The scenes in which they were in were by far the most electric and laugh out loud funny.
Fey is one of the most charming, yet sexy comediennes I have ever seen. Her television show ‘30 Rock’ exudes the best of what she has to offer. Carrell’s brand of sentimental comedy has come into its own and its visible here. His self deprecating sketches really connect. Regretfully, Date Night doesn’t showcase their complete arsenal of comedy. Some secondary roles like ‘Gossip Girl’s’ Leighton Meester, Taraji P. Henson, were underutilized and I ask why even have them there? They’re strong presences on camera.
The script, by Josh Hausner, looks influenced by scads of films such as Doug Liman’s ‘Mr. And Mrs. Smith,’ Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ and Martin Scorsese’s greatly underrated ‘After Hours.’ All wonderful films that have established directors attached to them. Not really the case here with director Shawn Levy. He lacks the technical skill and magic to create something last long after you’ve left the theater.
Towards the end, the movie delivers more action than the beginning, including a fun car chase sequence that is over the top. It’s these moments when you feel that the movie lunges from one big moment to the next and it never takes sufficient time to create a consistent pattern of action or comedy. It’s a mix that was good, not great.
All in all, go see it and have fun. Fey and Carrell is a comedic dream team that amuse and entertain, sort of the way Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn did in films like ‘Holiday’ and ‘The Philadelphia Story’.