Unreal Movie Review: Date Night


It really did seem like a match made in comedy heaven. On one end, Tina Fey, perhaps funniest woman on television and star of NBC’s perennial Emmy winning 30 Rock. On the other, her counterpart, Steve Carell, idiot-in-chief of Dunder Mifflin on NBC’s long-running comedy staple The Office. Surprisingly, the two have been wed together by Fox for Date Night, and not their usual parent company as you might expect.

The result is a mixed bag. Fey and Carell and capable of producing a pretty genuine emotional connection which makes for some solid moments in the film, and the two work well off of each other, but the problem is, the film they’ve been thrust together in just isn’t that funny, despite their best efforts.

Phil and Claire Foster are a typical suburbanite married couple in New Jersey. They have two kids, Phil is a tax lawyer and Claire a real estate agent. Their marriage is a gentle flowing river of sameness and safety, but when two of their friends split up (a one-scene appearance by Mark Ruffalo and Kristin Wiig), they decide they need to put some spice in their marriage so they don’t suddenly end up divorced one day.


Yes, this about sums up my feelings too.

Their idea of excitement is a dinner in Manhattan, at an exclusive restaurant called Claw with a “you must be this douchey to enter” sign at the door. They’re too late for a table, but sneak in when the “Triplehorns” don’t show up for their reservation, and so that’s who they decide to become for the night.

But after enjoying a night of fine dining next to Will.i.am, they discover that the Triplehorns were the wrong people to impersonate, and soon they’re harassed by two thugs (Jimmi Simpson and Common) who claim they’re in big trouble for blackmailing a local crime boss. The evening quickly escalates into a series of chase sequences interspersed with the Fosters trying to find out just who the Triplehorns really are and how they can extract themselves from this mess.

The movie starts off strong enough, as it’s amusing to watch Carell and Fey bumble around as a very believable in-a-rut married couple, but once the danger starts, the film begins a lull that almost never ceases, at least not until the last twenty minutes of the film.


Oh yeah, they’re in this too. For two seconds.

The problem isn’t with Fey and Carell, they’ve both proven to be excellent comedic actors given a wide range of a material. Instead, the issue is with the script, which is just not that clever. What few good lines there are were tossed into the trailer, as is common practice for an underwhelming comedy, and almost everything else falls flat.

Fox may have been able to snipe actors from NBC’s top two shows, but they really should have stuck around and grabbed some of their writers as well. Instead, they have Josh Klausner, who may be very adept at writing ogre fart jokes in Shrek’s 3 and 4, but doesn’t do anything remotely interesting with this material, which is shame considering the film has a fairly promising concept and two very talented actors.


J.B. Smoove makes everything better.

Funny bits the redeem the film near the end include a conjoined-car chase scene co-starring J.B. Smoove, and a laughably erotic dance sequence with Carrel and Fey parading around a stripper pole. Mark Wahlberg’s guest spot as a suave ex-military security analyst brings a few laughs too, but the film’s recurring jokes (telling him to put a shirt on, the audacity of taking someone’s reservation) never really carry any comedic weight each time they’re brought up.

Date Night is simply much too safe a comedy for its own good, with Carell and Fey given incredibly little to work with amidst an interesting concept. I have a feeling if they’d just improved the entire thing, we’d have had a much better time, and here’s to hoping the next time they’re paired up (and I believe they should be), the movie they’re in is worthy of them.

2 out of 5 stars

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  1. The review in my local paper said the end credits were the best part because they included parts with Tina Fey ad-libbing. I have to say the critic was correct, those were the funniest parts and they weren’t even in the actual movie. Maybe if they didn’t have to follow the awful script and allowed two of the funniest people in Hollywood to riff a little bit more it would have been better.

  2. Why is Tina Fey considered to be so funny? I just don’t get it. I’d rather sit through an entire Jimmy Fallon or Rob Schneider movie than watch five minutes of Fey. Every second is like sheer torture, yet everyone seems to think she’s brilliant.

  3. I don’t really like Fey either. But I’ve also never cared enough to sit down and watch whatever she’s doing. It’s probably because I hate SNL…


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