Date Night

Carell and Fey After Hours

         
 

09 April 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Date Night is far from great but in terms of being a feel-good entertainment it gives you probably what you would want out of a Steve Carell and Tina Fey aging-dorks pairing. Feel-good is a relative term these days against a sour onslaught of releases, it’s also a sign that this fairly light comedy doesn’t do anything that you would label as abrasive. It’s a rare comedy that didn’t make me once want to puke. What a compliment, I know.

Actually, I found myself giggling at Carell’s repeated failed attempts at masculinity. And Fey’s inhibited nerd, a tad too simple a woman for the Big City. Carell, as he proved in a regular schmo in “Dan in Real Life,”  is well-suited for that too-nice guy. Fey is just as funny here as she was in “Baby Mama” but this is a role with more insecure frailty than she’s done before. Together they play the Fosters, a New Jersey couple, whom decide to go out on a much needed date night in New York City in order to reboot their romance for each other.

They hit the very swank but uppity restaurant-club Claw, and since they don’t have a reservation, they steal one when the hostess calls out for the Triplehorns who are nowhere to be seen. Complications demand that the Fosters are now mistaken for somebody important, and two thugs take them to the back alley to shake some information out of them. They escape from under their wing and spend the rest of the movie is about running from danger, and searching for answers, too.

Due to predictable elements, the movie’s outline is drawn for you before you’re halfway through it, and the two thugs – a scruffy white guy and a bald black guy – are nincompoops who can’t shoot straight. These are unrecognizable character actors playing one-note characters. Actors on board include Ray Liotta as a big Mafioso crook, William Fichtner as a white collar crook, Taraji P. Hensen as a detective, James Franco and Mila Kunis as a nutty couple in hideout, Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig as a couple on the fritz, and Mark Wahlberg as a Bruce Wayne-type stud. The supporting cast hit their marks breezily.

What is startling, in the best sense possible, is that Wahlberg is able to do almost nothing and yet is very funny. His character’s persona is macho conceit, and when our date couple duo enter his sexy pad, Carell becomes instantly jealous of Fey’s leeriness for Whalberg’s pecs. When they leave Wahlberg’s condo and go on route to their next destination, the two take a timeout to evaluate their marriage. The interplay dialogue brings up this issue: With two kids, two parallel careers and a mortgage how will they ever have time to spike sexy excitement into their boring marriage?

Some of it is questionably ridiculous. Carell, after commandeering a sports car, locks horns with a taxi cab – their vehicles, that is – which becomes a two-car wrecking derby through the streets of New York while good cops and trigger happy cops pursue them. The idea of the bumpers of two cars sticking together as the way portrayed in the movie is, well, a crock. But for the time-being it gives the producers of the film something to put in the marketing trailer. I worked up enough good spirits to at least chuckle at the preposterousness.

The best trick of the movie throws Carell and Fey into an adult club which prompts them to perform the most deliberately bad pole-dancing that you ever saw. But that’s the appeal of them anyway, two dorky actors tackling naughtiness and turning it into something charmingly naive. And the end credits cookies reveals that these two really enjoyed each other’s company during the making of their movie.

88 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

COMEDY / INNER NERD APPEAL / TEENS AND ADULTS

Film Cousins: “After Hours” (1985); “Blind Date” (1987); “License to Drive” (1988); “Midnight Run” (1988).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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