Starring-Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg
Scott’s Review #481
Reviewed September 17, 2016
Date Night is a perfect example of mediocrity in modern film making. We have two current comedic actors here- Steve Carrell and Tina Fey- circa 2010- at the top of their game. The film makers idea is to pair these two and make an appealing romantic comedy appealing to the masses. The main issue with this film is that the result is generic and a quite average offering. And the entire film is incredibly plot driven with no character development to speak of. If I am being too harsh, admittedly there is rather nice chemistry between the two leads, but it is wasted because of sloppy writing.
A couple from the New Jersey ‘burbs, Carrell and Fey portray husband and wife, Phil and Claire Foster. Saddled with two kids and their romance reaching dullsville, Phil decides to take Claire to a ritzy Manhattan restaurant. When they arrive, they cannot get a table, but pretend to be another couple (the Tripplehorns) in order to obtain their table after the other couple no-shows. This leads to a tale of mistaken identity as the Tripplehorns possess a flash drive that a mobster (Ray Liotta) wants. This leads to a chase throughout Manhattan to outrun and outwit their pursuers. Wahlberg plays a hunky client of Claire’s, always shirtless, who is meant to threaten Phil and Claire’s marriage. Yawn.
Several other of the current Hollywood elite- Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Ruffalo, make small and somewhat pointless appearances. Specifically, Franco and Kunis as a stoner-type bickering couple is really silly and unnecessary to the story.
Carrell and Fey are actually quite funny as individuals and as a duo- Date Night, though, does not capitalize nor showcase their respective talents. The film tries too hard to come up with scenario after scenario of the two on the run and encountering one problematic situation after another.
As the plot of Date Night wears on, I found myself noticing that each situation that occurs is a measure of convenience. Conveniently, Claire has a client in town (Wahlberg), who is a security expert. They go to him for help and, predictably, his hunkiness bothers Phil and piques Claire’s interest- though of course we know full well Phil and Claire will end up together- that is how these mainstream films go. In another scene. Phil and Claire are able to break into an office building unnoticed, trigger the alarms, conveniently find a needed file, and escape, miraculously all before the police arrive minutes later. Very plot driven.
The lead actors in Date Night are appealing and even charming together, but the silly, inane plot make it unappealing to watch and the slew of stars that somebody decided would be a great addition to a lukewarm film is odd. The roles written had little bearing on the central plot so it was apparent why they were added. Date Night is a film we have seen time and time again with other actors in similar roles.