Starring: Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Taraji P. Henson, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Josh Klausner
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Original Score: Christophe Beck
Running Time: 88 Mins.
Hardly a glowing endorsement for a comedy this, but Date Night is mildly amusing, with the occasional intermittent burst (3 times I think!) of being actually funny, this as you may have guessed is hardly a glowing endorsement for a comedy but given Carrell’s last starring vehicle was Get Smart it’s a slight step up and for that I suppose we should be grateful. Though to be fair Carrell shouldn’t be blamed, for it is he who makes Date Night funny on occasion, the more likely to protagonist for this smorgasboard of average is director Shawn Levy.
Take the three “comedy” franchises Levy has steered to super (inexplicable I might add) success, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther (remake) and Night at the Museum, if this director has any mark it is the ability to churn out average, and by average I mean lazy and uninspired, comedies. Not bad in the way that say Epic Movie is, simply taking potentially funny ideas and turning them into something that could be best described as “passing the time” in the most forgettable way in filmic terms, so we can now add to Levy’s roster Date Night. Not quite as lazy as his past resume but only thanks to Carrell’s natural comic timing, at the point’s that I would imagine were improvised.
So while Levy’s uninspired film-making is a mark of what to expect so to is the long list of stars in the cast, one thing the man does seem capable of is attracting some great talent, see Night at the Museum and Pink Panther for evidence of this too, Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Common, Ray Liotta, James Franco…I could go on but there is little point as each and every one of them have nothing to add to the film, Wahlberg is as amusing as the script allows which mostly relies on him being topless, while names like Ruffalo and Liotta may as well be nobodies for the sake of the seconds they are actually in the film. Why have big name cameos when you aren’t going to give them anything funny or worthwhile to do?
The plot is standard case of mistaken identity that takes in Fey and Carrell’s attempts to rejuvenate their seemingly stale/routine married life amidst flatly staged car chases and shoot-outs, the stars try hard with the little they have to work with but slapstick comedy seems below Fey, whos comedic writing talents are leagues above what Klausner is clearly capable of based on this evidence. Carrell fares better and hints at the comedian he is capable of being at his best, even if it is just a hint it offers the highlight’s of the film and without these glimmers would make for a totally pointless venture.
Date Night purports to be an action comedy, an unfortunate label given the action is almost non-existent and the comedy is just about evident, depending on your benchmark for funny. A great comedy bears being funny on repeat viewing, Date Night only just manages it occasionally on first viewing…again not the kind of reccommendation that will have audiences flocking to the cinemas.
Displaying the same pedestrian approach as his past repertoire, Date Night marks a slight improvement in that Steve Carrell is a very funny man and when allowed to improvise briefly ascends the “mildly amusing” whole.