D: Shawn Levy. DP: Dean Semler. W: Josh Klausner. Starring: Steve Carell/Tina Fey/Mark Walberg/James Franco/Mila Kunis/Taraji P. Henson/Jimmi Simpson/Common/Ray Liota/William Fichtner/Kristin Wiig/Mark Ruffalo/Leighton Meester.
For all those out there who don’t want to learn to train a dragon or hear about the clash of Titans, your spring movie is here.
Shawn Levy clearly depends on his main leads wit, chemistry and charisma to drive the film. And why not? Both Fey and Carell have proven their comedic chops in television land and hail from an impressive and hilarious improv background. Their married Foster couple is the perfect platform for them to exercise these skills on the screen. After jumping on someone else’s reservations, the couple is caught in a mis-matched identity scuffle. Fey and Carell must run from scumbags who think they are another couple who have stolen a flash drive from their boss. A basic plot, that never gets much further than that, the comedic couple must survive running around New York City while solving a theft they did not commit.
Sporting funny cameos by the likes of Walberg, Franco and Kunis, Date Night tries to up its anti in classic caper form. Yet somehow the film doesn’t embrace its physical comedy as much as it could have. Yes their are moments of physical comedy, but they are pretty standard laughs. There is simply not enough of a balance between one liners and Carell puking out of fright. And unfortunately for Levy it is all too obvious when his leads are improv-ing or ab-libbing as the film itself doesn’t have a fast enough pace to keep their jokes going.
Similar with other broad comedies, most of the jokes are sadly stuffed into all the previews so that by the time audiences members do sit down to see the film they won’t laugh out loud anymore. A marketing ploy that is somehow thought to get people in seats, this over saturation of the film’s material seriously dampens the film’s actual delivery. Not just a problem with Date Night or the comedy genre, these meddlesome marketing folks somehow still haven’t gotten the memo that teasers are actually the real trailers.
But do not worry, Date Night will clearly survive in theaters for awhile as it does do some things right. It actually celebrates a married couple who doesn’t want to give up on their relationship and allows a female character to be comparably funny to her counter part. Maybe as their marriage, Levy and Klausner felt there was little threat from Fey if she was funny. But it is great to see the pair of comedians break out of the normal pitfalls of the romantic comedy and keep the silly reinforcements of the power of love to a minimum.
And don’t forget the film’s titled Date Night, so hopefully audiences won’t be shy about venturing to theaters despite being a couple. Because, after all, the film is more about figuring out a mix-up than falling in love, or is it?