Hilarious Carell, Fey save ‘Date Night’

Movie: Date Night

Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey

Rating: PG-13

3.5 out of 5 pitchforks

Steve Carell and Tina Fey are two of the funniest people on television these days, so it only makes sense that they finally team up in the new comic-thriller “Date Night.” Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a dull married couple from New Jersey. They wake up to their two bouncing kids by 5 a.m. and are in bed by 11 p.m.  They spend their nights playing with the kids, eating potato skins at a local family restaurant or attending their book club. After learning their friends are splitting up because of an equally boring relationship, Phil decides to romance Claire with a night out on the town. Their dinner at a swanky New York restaurant turns out to be the most thrilling “date night” ever once they take the reservation for “Tripplehorn, party of two.” In a case of mistaken identity, Phil and Claire must escape from two thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) looking to avenge their boss, whom the Tripplehorns offended. At one point in the film, Phil and his friend Brad (Mark Ruffalo) discuss the acting career of Gedde Watanabe, best known for his role as Long Duk Dong in “Sixteen Candles.” According to the characters, Long Duk Dong would only ever be Long Duk Dong in their eyes. This conversation applies to “Date Night” in a way the writers may not have intended. For audiences, Carell and Fey can only ever be Michael Scott and Liz Lemon. Fans of the shows “The Office” and “30 Rock” will not be watching the married couple Phil and Claire in “Date Night.” Instead, they will be watching Michael and Liz as a married couple. Fortunately for “Date Night,” this is a good thing. The two have impeccable comedic chemistry and their marital exchanges are amusing and surprisingly believable. If any other actors tried to take on these roles, the result would be disastrous — that’s how perfectly Fey and Carell fit in them. That’s not to say they are the only ones carrying the film. With help from James Franco, Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg, all the actors keep the audiences laughing. Franco and Kunis have important, albeit brief, roles and the juxtaposition between their sleazebag characters and the high-strung Fosters makes for one of the funniest moments in the film. Director Shawn Levy is no stranger when it comes to lacing thrills and adventure throughout a comedy. He succeeded in his “Night at the Museum” franchise to mix in spectacularly filmed and edited actions scenes, though the same kind of scenes in “Date Night” fall short in comparison. Most of the movie has a crisp look to it, with the exception of chases that look like a first-semester film student shot them.

Unfortunately, the chase scenes are numerous and drawn out, making over half the movie look amateurish. Luckily, Levy had the aid of Fey and Carell to distract audiences from these discrepancies. It is not polite or admirable to take another couple’s dinner reservations and “Date Night” makes this fact clear in a running joke throughout the movie. So take a special someone to “Date Night,” and enjoy the comedic styling of Carell and Fey — just remember not to take anyone else’s reservations at the restaurant afterward.

Reach Stephanie at slrusso@asu.edu


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