Date Night is greater than the sum of its parts. When you consider that Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are some of those parts–then you realize you might have a pretty decent comedy on your hands. For those who have seen the trailer to this film (that would be most of you) then you understand the premise. Phil and Claire Foster are just a nice married couple from the suburbs that is bored with their relationship. One night they both decide to take some risks on a “date night” in the city. The result puts them in harms way–and us in the middle of quite a few laughs. Oh yeah…and Mark Wahlberg is shirtless. A lot.
What happens in a classic case of mistaken identity turns into a comedy romp. a simple beginning that could have been easily sorted out, quickly escalates and drops these otherwise ordinary people into what resembles a bad Jerry Bruckheimer action film. Think Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with a married couple.
Its the bad action movie stuff that doesn’t work very well. Most of it is just a clunky vehicle to move the plot along so we can watch these two “schmos” continue to goof their way through the night. For me, a lot of the zany physical comedy had my eyes rolling. But I have to admit, the audience was rolling right along with it. There were also a few running gags that I didn’t think were all that funny the 5th and 6th time around, but, I get it…it is fairly standard fare for this type of film.
What I found to be very funny (and interesting) were some of the really clever things that each of them had to share about relationships. There are a lot of ordinary conversations between Phil and Claire Foster about normal things. Hilariously normal things. Those were the times this movie had me smiling and…yes…laughing out loud. Even though things are blowing up, they are getting shot at, and racing high performance vehicles at a high rate of speed; they have a chance to talk, to laugh at each other–and with each other. Carrell and Fey really make this film work and create natural, loveable people. Watching them laugh with each other encourages you to laugh along with them. Forget the silly action plot and just see this film to watch these two great comedians and actors together on screen.
Sometimes, too, a movie is better with those you see it with. Having seen this movie with my wife, (who, incidently loved the running gags and the physical comedy) made the movie a bit more enjoyable. There were scenes we could relate to…laugh at together as well. Comedies are always better to watch with friends–but this one goes from about a 7 for me up to an 8 if you can see it with a “significant other.”
She also really liked the Mark Wahlberg parts.