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Movie Review: Date Night

 
Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years and 9 months ago

1     0
 

Written 4/9/10

The concept within this film is pretty much simple, and quite frankly, nothing we haven’t seen before. You know, the action/comedy flick that has a story which entails a team or couple that find themselves in the midst of a nail-biting rush…? The rush always entails a bit of disagreements, mixed with a little of car chases, a joke here and there and bullets never fail as well. While this downer’s in motion, it’s the subtle occurrence where negatives always has positives blended in-between, only it’s not brought into light until say… an hour within in the film where pieces start to map out and helps rekindle any kind of miscommunication(s) that have been going on unnoticed for the longest time. Hmm… the genre sounds just like a couple of bombs that have been released recently -- Cop Out or Bounty Hunter -- and Date Night doesn’t stray too far from it.

Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a happily married couple whose marital intimacy has been demoted to occasional "date nights" due to pressures presented by two careers and two bratty shit-head kids. On one such date night, Phil grows some cojones, and decides to try a walk on the wild side and take Claire to a stuffy new Manhattan restaurant (Claw) without making the necessary month-in-advance reservation. As the Fosters kill time by the bar waiting for a table to open up, they hear the hostess repeatedly calling for "the Tripplehorns." Looking round, Phil realizes the Trippehorns are not around, He decides to steal their reservation. The tactic works out well for a few minutes - until it becomes apparent why the Tripplehorns stayed away. A couple of rough looking bad guys - Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson) and Collins (Common) - arrive to retrieve "the flash drive" from Phil and Claire - something they don't have. Chases and other examples of staple action mayhem ensues until the Fosters determine that the only path to safety lies in obtaining the flash drive from the real Tripplehorns and handing it over to (a) the cops, (b) no-nonsense DA Frank Crenshaw (William Fichtner), or (c) NYC's current mob boss (Ray Liotta). For help, they go to a laid-back ex-secret ops dude named Holbrooke (Mark Wahlberg) who rarely wears a shirt, has a history with Claire, and is involved with HOT Middle-Eastern woman who wants to know if a foursome will be in place. (That entire scene I thought was the highlight of film! Carell and Fey displaying the characters I was waiting to see!)

The scenes that don't feature car chases, gun-toting standoffs, and other assorted action scenes are the most enjoyable. The set-up will be familiar to many suburban moms and dads whose nuclear families have not fallen prey to dysfunction, and observed humor in everyday married-with-children premise expressed in a manner that exaggerates only slightly for effective purposes. Take away the silliness of the mobsters and their crooked cop allies and Date Night might work as a big-screen sit-com - an arena in which both Carell and Fey have shown themselves to be powerful. The pleasure to be found here is in watching the stars interact, not seeing the stunts and special effects. Even in the midst of the film's action sequences, there's time for a pleasant dramedy moment in which Phil and Claire contemplate their marriage - it's a spec that reminds us how enjoyable the movie can be when it switches to a level of subtly AND simplicity. Unfortunately, director Shawn Levy may not understand how to do action effectively, but that doesn't stop him from trying. And truth is… Who am I? Oh wait – I’m the guy who’s supposed “represent” he or she who watches movies and jots down my thoughts. That’s who I am, I get compensated for it and free to unleash as I see fit. So yeah… I guess Levy may not understand.

Carell and Fey have been surrounded with an interesting and high-profile supporting cast. Jimmi Simpson and rapper-turned-actor Common portray gun-toting villains who are a bit more serious than the typical action/comedy fumbers. (…And did a great job at it. I always enjoy Common.) Taraji P. Henson is the police officer who wonders why a couple from the suburbs has become mixed up in crimes across the city. Mark Wahlberg, who spends most of his screen time bare-chested, acts a little spacey. Recognizable names with small parts include Ray Liotta (frothing at the mouth as usual), William Fichtner, Mark Ruffalo, Kristin Wiig and last but not least… Mila Kunis, and James Franco – who were also great! (God that Kunis is so freaking cute and sexy too!)

Quite frankly, the film is okay… I really enjoy Steve and Tina A LOT, but I don’t know, this is not their “it” film. That was long gone with 40 Year Old Virgin and Baby Mama. Like the Titanic, this film will go down smoothly. No one is going to remember the movie in a month (or, in many cases, the day after seeing it), but for Mommies and Daddies seeking a night's break from their children, it's adequate entertainment. Shit, there might even be some rekindling sex once they get home.

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