Shawn Levy has yet to impress me as a filmmaker. Just to name a couple: The Pink Panther was a travesty, Night at the Museum was cute, but I’d like to credit that to the screenwriters, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, more so than Levy; and now his latest film, Date Night is yet another dud.
That’s not to say it’s all-bad, there are a few really great moments, but on the whole the film seriously lacks what is needed to make it a good film (or even a good comedy).
Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are you average married couple who have settled into a regular schedule with their lives. After they learn about their friend eminent divorce they decide to shake things up and go to dinner in New York City. When they take someone else’s table reservation at a posh restaurant they get caught up in a case of mistaken identity and now their lives are in danger. Now this regular couple finds themselves in very irregular situations. They have to find away to save their lives and work our their relationship issues at the same time.
Carell and Fey have both proven time and time again how funny they are, so it’s a strange and sad to see how not funny they are here. They have moments, but they are mild chuckles at best. Their chemistry together saves the film from being a total loss.
Where this film really shines is this the secondary characters. First on the list is James Franco and Mila Kunis as the drugged out criminal couple that The Fosters have been mistaken for. For me these were the first really big laughs in the film and frankly, I’d rather see a movie about these two characters. Then there is Mark Wahlberg as Holbrooke, the shirtless badass who helps the hapless couple out much to Phil’s chagrin.
One of the reasons the comedy misfires is due to it being more of an action film than straight comedy. But even then, the film isn’t nearly action-packed enough to be a real action movie. However, it does have a really great chase sequence wherein Phil crashes a car into a taxi cab locking their bumpers together. Unable to disconnect Phil continues to drive away from the men trying to kill him with the cab attached. Not only was this a pretty original chase sequence, but was pretty funny as well.
And that’s pretty much it. Franco and Kunis, Wahlberg and once good chase scene. Outside those moments the film really seemed to drag along, not offering enough laughs for a good comedy or enough thrills for a good action movie. I’m not sure what Shawn Levy was going for with this film, but I don’t think he got it.
Date Night is presented in anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound. If nothing else, this is a pretty good looking film and the Blu-ray transfer is really top notch. Though it did seem to me that even for Blu-ray discs, this one took a really long time to load.
Director Commentary: (For the theatrical version only.) Frankly, I wish this had been a commentary with Carell and Fey, I think that would have been way more entertaining. Though Levy is amusing in his own way as he points out all the very obvious choices he made in directing this film. Many times while listening to this I thought, “Well, duh.”
Deleted Scenes: (6 min.) Watching Steve Carell try to parallel park a car is pretty funny, but mostly these were very much deleted for a reason.
Alt City: (2 min.) These are some funny outtakes. Thought some of these were shown in the end credits, so kind of a waste to reshow them here.
Extended Scenes: (10 min.) As if this film wasn’t slow enough as it is, this drags a few scenes out even longer.
Directing 301: (21 min.) A decent little feature to watch for someone interested in learning how a night on a Hollywood film set works. However, if you know anything about film, it’s all refresher. Also, Levy isn’t a very interesting teacher.
Disaster Dates: (5 min.) The cast talks about bad dates they’ve had. Some funny moments here.
Directing Off-Camera: (4 min.) Levy talks about his directing style. This is kind of interesting, I guess.
Carell and Fey Camera Tests: (3 min.) Camera tests with a long intro by Shawn Levy.
Gag Reel: (6 min.) Decent gag reel.
Public Service Announcements: (2 min.) Fey and Carell are funnier here than they are through the whole film.
BD-Live: Live Lookup:
Digital Copy and an extended version of the film.
Despite an all around solid cast, Date Night fails to deliver as a comedy or as an action film. There are some solid moments but not enough to make the film worth recommending. If you really need your Carell or Fey fix you’re better off watching an episode of 30 Rock or The Office.
20th Century Fox presents Date Night. Directed by: Shawn Levy. Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey. Written by: Josh Klausner. Running time: 88 minutes (Theatrical) 101 minutes (Extended). Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: August 10, 2010.
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years
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