Film: It’s been a good week since I saw this film and The Expendables (review coming soon) but I have only gotten round to writing them now. My apologies if you’ve missed my reviews. Then again you’ve probably got better things to do. Anyway, Date Night hit DVD a couple of weeks ago and during my weekend in England last week we thought we’d rent a movie with a big bucket of KFC, as you do. We were looking for something breezy, funny, entertaining and universally likeable. We certainly found it with Date Night.
Steve Carell and 30 Rock’s Tina Fey are Phil and Claire Foster, a suburban married couple with two young children and steady jobs. Their life has become very mundane and stuck in a routine and both find it hard to muster the enthusiasm to go on their weekly date nights. Phil begins to worry that the spark in their relationship might be fading and wants to try to rekindle what they had before traditional family life came into play. Phil decides to take Claire to a night in the City, optimistically and rather foolishly hoping to get a table in one of the top restaurants around without a reservation. But when no one claims a table, Phil and Claire lie and pretend they’re the ones who booked the table in order for Phil to give his wife a perfect night in the city. But that little white lie escalates and chaos and hilarity ensues, as thanks to a case of mistaken identity they become embroiled in blackmail, corrupt cops, gangsters and crooked Government officials. Phil and Claire must try to clear their names and find out the truth before they get ‘whacked’!
The story is nothing overly special, as it very much features stereotypes of cop comedies and stories of corrupt cops etc. is nothing particularly new. But it is very much just what the film needs for its ground work and it manages to build some very funny and action scenes (the Audi/Taxi clash being a particular highlight) and this is a film that is really all about its casts ability to handle the action and story developments whilst maintaining the spirit of improvisational comedy on which most the humour and laughs are based from. There is no worry of this not working with this cast as it is headed up by the two of the best comedians in Hollywood today. The scenes with Carell and Fey (so basically the whole film) feel quick and fresh and this is thanks to their improv skills. Their chemistry is something that most relationship movies can only dream of having. They click incredibly well and keep a human and touchingly funny element to the increasingly daft proceedings. Plus, Fey is a surprisingly hot as well.
The supporting cast doesn’t need to supply much laughs, Carell and Fey have it covered. The support is very much a series of recurring cameos, the highlight being Mark Whalberg as a private detective who lends the Fosters a hand. He does have good comic timing and due to him being topless for most of his screen time, he is there to make Carell and most of us male audience members feel quite inadequate in comparison. Ray Liotta makes a stereotypical mob boss cameo which is fun to see while no one else really makes that much of an impression, although Carell’s impression of Common’s character left me laughing for quite sometime.
Shawn Levy, the man behind the Night At the Museum movies, proves he can handle a more mature adult material here. I found those movies fun and Date Night certainly retains the action beats he developed working on those movies. I always found with those movies the improv comedy didn’t gel particularly well with the action scenes, but here it seems to work a lot better. Whether it’s because he is improving as a director, or the material was better written is up for the viewer to decide. Personally I think it’s a bit of both. Levy does work particularly well with actors, as the Museum movies showed as does this. They seem to be very comfortable under his direction and thankfully this is a case of the cast having a great time along with the audience. Levy’s next film will be particularly interesting as it completely different to what he has done, it being a Sci-Fi movie about robot boxing starring Hugh Jackman. On the evidence here, he can handle action pretty comfortably so shall be keeping an eye out for that one. As he has certainly delivered a highly entertaining and funny comedy with two brilliant performances from Steve Carell and Tina Fey perfect for a Friday night in. With KFC.
Extras: The DVD only features a gag reel which is absolutely hilarious and well worth it. I decided not to look at what the Blu-Ray featured, considering the last two disappointments. But only a gag reel, so ont a great package.