Date Night - Film Review

Posted on 09. Apr, 2010 by in Film/TV

by Todd Gilchrist

Rating: star Date Night   Film Reviewstar Date Night   Film Reviewstar Date Night   Film Reviewhalfstar Date Night   Film Reviewblankstar Date Night   Film Review

There are certain movies that demand discussion and analysis, and others that simply are what they are. Date Night falls into the latter category: a lighthearted comedy about a New Jersey married couple whose night on the town turns into a race for their lives, there’s precious little that needs to be deconstructed once you know director Shawn Levy (A Night at the Museum, Cheaper By the Dozen) is behind the cameras, and Steve Carell and Tina Fey are in front of them. Thankfully, however, that absence of conversation also means that you’re likely to embrace the film if you like even two out of three of those component parts, and it’s why Date Night is a competent and engaging little comedy that delivers on its premise without demanding more from the audience than their enjoyment.

Not just ideally cast but magically compatible as man and wife, Carell and Fey bring real humor to the roles of Phil and Clare Foster, a couple desperately trying to maintain romance in their relationship despite the demands of work and family. After a neighboring couple announces their divorce, Phil and Clare decide to add a little spice to date night and steal the reservation of absentee diners at a posh new Manhattan restaurant. Unfortunately, they take the names of some folks who apparently are in possession of some contraband materials, and soon find themselves on the run from corrupt cops (Jimmi Simpson and Common) who were sent to retrieve them at the behest of a cutthroat mobster (Ray Liotta).

dn9 Date Night   Film Review

Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg in "Date Night"

With few options available and the cops closing in, Phil and Clare look for help from one of Clare’s clients, a charming, capable and shirt-deficient security expert (Mark Wahlberg), who not only offers them some unexpected assistance but helps them rekindle the excitement and romance of their marriage.

At a svelte 88 minutes, the film has not an ounce of fat on it, although an extended car chase threatens to test the tensile strength of the film’s otherwise tautly-rendered action. But otherwise Carell and Fey make the most of the material: both are obviously comfortable in the kind of observational, off-the-cuff humor that has come to define comedy in the era of Judd Apatow’s ensemble films, but even without a particularly expansive group of personalities off of which to react, Fey and Carell manage to provide terrific punch lines without indulging in scenery-chewing stardom. That Levy also keep the scenes cut down to their simplest and most effective only further helps the brevity and brilliance of their wit, elevating what could have been a tedious action-comedy into something slightly more enchanting.

Needless to say there are good date movies and bad date movies, and this one happens to be a good one because it’s frivolous and fun and but actually offers a few deeper truths about relationships. Meanwhile, Fey continues to emerge as a performer with more talents than even she seems to recognize, which may be part of her charm, while Carell offers a grounded, sincere turn that also allows him to play big without losing believability. Overall, Date Night is an undemanding movie, but it’s a perfectly good undemanding movie, which is why when you don’t discuss it, you won’t mind: when people talk about turning off their brains and just being entertained for a few hours, unlike so many stupid or insubstantial others, this is the sort of film they truly hope to see.

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One Response to “Date Night - Film Review”

  1. Administrator

    09. Apr, 2010

    date night indeed

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