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REVIEW: Date Night

Movie makes for an underwhelming, real date night

Date Night: Rates a C-.
Courtesy photo

You really can’t ask for a better cast than was put together for Date Night. Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are both hysterically funny and on their sitcoms (and in TV interviews). James Franco and Mila Kunis can both do comedy and drama, and have a great scene in this.

There’s Kristen Wiig, my favorite cast member of Saturday Night Live. Mark Wahlberg is perfectly cast as the guy Fey enlists to help (he doesn’t like to wear shirts, and who would if they looked like him?).

The bad guys are played by William Fichtner (you’d know him if you saw him) and Ray Liotta.

The always dependable Mark Ruffalo shows up, and cavalierly talks about his crumbling marriage.

Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am has a cameo that makes for a hysterical scene (so many movies blow it with cameos; this is exactly how they should be done).

So with this kind of talent, and a wonderful chemistry between Fey and Carrell, why did I leave the theatre disappointed? Even the closing credits, with bloopers, weren’t as funny as you’d expect.

I’m sure critics are going to try and make movie comparisons with this. You’ll hear about the Out of Towners, North by Northwest, Scenes From a Marriage, After Hours, True Lies…but this movie is different enough than those. I just wish it were funnier!

We have a few scenes that involve the couple looking at other people in a restaurant and making up conversations the couple is having. They’re hysterical. And with the improv background of Fey and Carrell, you wonder if many of those weren’t even scripted. I was left wondering why they didn’t help make the script funnier. After all, the one scene I know about him ad-libbing in 40-Year-Old Virgin, had him yelling “Kelly Clarkson!” while his chest was waxed. We remember that and it was years ago.

I liked the fact that this is a married couple that we like. We can see that with their jobs and their kids, things have gotten stale. Yet when they go to bed and Carrell sees her putting in her “mouth guard” he mentions they won’t be having sex. And instead of other movies or TV shows where the woman has a snotty comeback, she quickly takes her mouth guard out (dripping with spit) and says she’ll rally. He doesn’t push the sex, saying they can shoot for tomorrow. This conversation makes us like both characters, and it’s also funny. I’m sure married and single people can relate to it.

At the mid-way point, the movie becomes a goofy action picture. And sure, it was fun when a taxi got stuck in the grill of an Audi they’re driving; but a little of that goes a long way.

I’m not a big fan of 30 Rock, but I love The Office. And I’m guessing you could’ve taken the worst three episodes of The Office, and still had more laughs than you did with this movie. It makes it hard to justify those high ticket prices and popcorn.

This movie did provide me with one very satisfying moment, though.

A couple sat behind me with a baby and a five-year-old (it’s rated PG-13). The baby started crying briefly, and then I had to listen to the mom pat the child loudly on the back and say “shhhh” to him for five minutes. When a scene took place at a strip club, I had to listen to the other kid ask, “Why do I have to shut my eyes?”

I turned around and looked at them for a few seconds, hoping they’d get the point. Near the end of the movie, after Fey and Carrell talk about how much they have to pay the babysitter for working so much longer…I said loudly as I glanced back, “Hey…they got a babysitter when they went out for the evening. That’s a great idea!”

It embarrassed my girlfriend, but it felt great to say.

But forget about hiring a babysitter and making a date night out of this. It’s not worth it.

I give it a C-.