How do you take a great concept, two hot stars, lots of money … and then produce something as abysmally bad as Date Night? I don’t know the answer to that one.
Wait, I do know the answer: It’s called a lousy, cliche-ridden script. I keep harping on this Hollywood deficiency, but of course my whining doesn’t matter, and neither would yours. The Tinseltown suits are confident that gullible moviegoers will turn out in droves if they can just keep feeding them a) awesome special effects, b) the right celebrities, or c) a plot that sounds good on paper and can be explained in two sentences or less.
Still, I had high hopes for Date Night, in which Steve Carell and Tina Fey play an ordinary suburban couple inadvertently tossed into criminal mischief on their weekly night out, and all of this playing out against the perfect background — Manhattan after dark. This is territory that Martin Scorsese mined to perfection in After Hours, and that Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis stumbled through amusingly in The Out of Towners.
The disaster that is Date Night is not the fault of Carell and Fey. In fact, the two stars are the only reason to keep watching the stupid thing. To their immense credit, Carell and Fey somehow retain our sympathies through ridiculous plot twists, childish dialogue, and obligatory car chases. Aside from its stars, I could come up with just one reason to recommend Date Night: There are few, if any, special effects. Grade: D+
Director: Shawn Levy Cast: Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, William Fichtner, Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta, Gal Gadot Release: 2010
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