Directed by: Shawn Levy
Premise: A boring married couple (Tina Fey and Steve Carell) goes out for a date night in the city and find themselves on the run from gangsters and crooked cops when they are mistaken for another couple.
What Works: Tina Fey and Steve Carell are fun to watch together and their natural acting styles are complementary. The early portion of the film has an earnest and a sweet quality about it as it portrays the couple’s marital malaise.
What Doesn’t: Date Night is very much Fey and Carell’s show and without their contributions Date Night would likely be unwatchable. The jokes are almost entirely carried by dialogue as opposed to action or plot and so Date Night ends up being a collection of smart-ass remarks as opposed to a structured comedy or farce. When the film goes for physical gags the pay off is not very significant and when employing running gags Date Night returns to the well once too often. There is no discernable narrative here, just skits strung together under a flimsy premise and even at eighty-eight minutes, Date Night seems padded, but none of that padding helps the story. The mistaken-identity plotline is used only superficially to give Fey and Carell some sense of direction, like a prompt at an improv comedy show. And although Date Night is not intended to be North By Northwest, it isn’t too much to demand a coherent narrative with an understandable climax. But this film does not deliver that, nor does it resolve the marital woes that got the couple into the mess in the first place.
Bottom Line: Although it is funny in places, Date Night is a let down. There are some easy laughs to be had but Tina Fey and Steve Carell are better than this.
Episode: #284 (April 18, 2010)