If the lacklustre trailer for Tina Fey and Steve Carell’s new film Date Night fails to convince you to fork out money for a cinema ticket, the impressive cast list may well do the trick. Fey and Carell have clearly called in some favours for this project. That’s surely the only explanation as to why James Franco, Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg all chose to partake in such an unambitious production.
In the film, Fey and Carell play Phil and Claire Foster, an ordinary couple from New Jersey with a pleasant but unfulfilling daily routine. As a couple the amusing duo are likeable and believable but the film, disappointingly, is not. We see the Fosters heading out to the new ‘it’ restaurant in Manhattan called Claw. When they arrive at the restaurant without a booking and take the reservation of a couple known as The Tripplehorns they get a great deal more than they bargained for. We soon discover that the Tripplehorns are involved in some pretty sticky business. Thus the rest of the film sees the Fosters (mistaken for the Tripplehorns) desperately trying to avoid all kinds of danger. General hilarity ensues.
To be fair there are actually a selection of laugh out loud moments. These moments tend, however, to be when Fey and Carell are sticking less rigidly to Josh Klausner’s uninspired script. For example when the Fosters return to Claw disguised as ‘trendy’ and ‘alternative’ New Yorkers (with unexplained Siberian accents), they produce a brilliant piece of comedy that had the cinema erupting in laughter. In addition the outtakes at the end display the strong chemistry that exists between the film’s two protagonists. It’s just a pity Fey and Carell weren’t granted more freedom and control over this picture.
My main issue with the film is that I just didn’t buy the story. Why do the Fosters behave so stupidly throughout? When asked to step into a dark New York alleyway by two burly men, they comply. And when offered a way out of the mix up by the NYPD, they decide ‘It’s much too late for police now. Let’s solve this thing ourselves!’ Fey and Carell are a safe bet for the main parts and they should be the key to success for a comedy like this. Instead Date Night ends up using cheap methods for easy laughs.