Thursday, May 06, 2010

Date Night

Steve Carell and Tina Fey star in this new comedy but don't go expecting "Liz Lemon" or "Michael Scott", the characters they play on TV or you will be disappointed. Taking two well known comedy actors who are known for their very strong characters and pairing them in a film seems like a wonderful idea but stripped of those characters, the results are only mildly amusing.

The two comics play a married couple from New Jersey who, tired of their routine lives, have a "date night" in Manhattan. Predictably, things go chaotically wrong after a case of mistaken identity. The plot is derivative from "The Out of Towners", a terrific comedy with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. In that film, it's as if the city itself conspires against the visiting couple. This time we are given the standard gangster and crooked politician with cops on the take who threaten our hapless couple.

There is one very funny sight gag involving a rowboat and an original idea for a car chase but not many "laugh out loud" moments. A scene in a back room club involving a pole dance is actually embarrassing for both Mr. Carell and Ms. Fey as well as for William Fichtner, who plays the crooked DA. Ms Fey gets the bulk of the good one-liners and Mark Walhberg is pretty funny in a self parody. D.J. Smoove (so funny on "Curb Your Enthusiasm") is wasted in what could almost be considered a racial stereotype as a frightened cabbie. Mark Ruffalo and Kristin Wiig are completely wasted in what amounts to a cameo but James Franco and Mila Kunis show some comic flair as the real couple being sought by the villains.

I'm sure the pitch for this film was great but a stronger script would have produced better results.

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