Judge Patrick Naugle wishes all his dates would result in this much unexpected action.
Our review of Date Night, published July 14th, 2010, is also available.
One ordinary couple. One little white lie.
All Phil and Claire Foster (The Office's Steve Carell and 30 Rock's Tina Fey) want is a little more adventure in their lives. Their existence as married parents of two has become mundane and after they discover their best couple friends are splitting up they decide to take a "date night" downtown to spice up their lives. When Phil decides to steal someone else's reservation at a local snobby hot spot, things appear to be on the road to excitement…until two brutish thugs (rapper Common and Jimmi Simpson, Zodiac) mistake Phil and Claire for an on-the-run couple who are in possession of a flash drive with crucial mob information on it. On the run from a crime boss (Ray Liotta, Goodfellas) and crooked cops, Phil and Claire have to figure out how to clear their names AND make it home in time to pay their babysitter!
Date Night is a film that depends solely on its stars. The story, as it were, is little more than fodder for a night of shenanigans with TV's reigning king and queen of comedy. It's a pretty simple equation: if you like Steve Carell and Tina Fey, you'll most likely enjoy Date Night. Carell and Fey don't really deviate much from their television counterparts—Carell seems to be playing a smarter, more likable version of Dunder-Mifflin's Michael Scott and Fey is a settled version of Liz Lemmon. It's a simple case of what you see is what you get. You like these stars? Then this movie is for you.
Date Night doesn't try too hard to be a cutting edge comedy and, maybe because of the subject matter, ends up being innocuous entertainment for adults, newbie parents and couples (the demographic who will most likely relate to the story and themes). I saw this move on a date in the theaters last spring and it ended up being a good choice for that particular activity (hence the title). There isn't much here that will be very offensive to couples, unless you're really against the sight of seeing Mark Wahlberg's half naked torso prance around the screen (it's gratuitous, but at least he's in on the joke). For the ladies there is romance and for the men there's action, albeit in a watered down, PG-13 sort of way that ensures almost no one gets very hurt and everything turns out okay in the end.
One of the pleasures of Date Night is seeing some familiar character actors doing nice work in small roles. Armageddon's William Fichtner (one of the most veritable actors working in Hollywood, always able to go from comedic to dramatic in a heartbeat) plays a sleazy politician who ends up giving the Fosters more than they bargained for. Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig and Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island) pop up as the Foster's self destructing best friends while Curb Your Enthusiasm's J.B. Smoove shows up for a very funny cameo as an out of control cabbie. Even Ray Liotta gets in on the fun as—what else?—a shifty and humorless mob boss.
I enjoyed Date Night. I didn't love it, but I'm a big Carell fan so I found it to be breezy, silly entertainment in the vein of Adventures in Babysitting (a movie it seems to share a kindred spirit with). Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) keeps things clipping along and makes sure it's never boring. As fun, escapist entertainment, this is a movie that should make for a very fulfilling Date Night.
Date Night is presented in both the 88 minute theatrical version as well as a 101 minute extended cut (but don't get too exciting, none of the material is tawdry, titillating 'uncut' footage of any kind).
The Blu-ray is 2.35:1 1080p widescreen. Overall this hi-def image is a pleasing picture. I won't go overboard and say it looks fantastic because the image generally don't 'pop' off the screen very often. Colors are well rendered and the black levels—while sometimes sporting some DNR at times—are mostly solid and accurate. This is not a transfer that will blow movie lovers out of the water, but is eons better than DVD and works for the material.
The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Audio 5.1 Surround in English. Much like the video transfer, this isn't a bad mix nor is it overly exciting. The bulk of the track is very front heavy and utilizes directional speakers only occasionally (usually during the action sequences or the car chases). When it does perk up, the track sounds great, though for the most part it's a suitable sound mix and little else. Also included on this disc are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Date Night features a fair amount of supplemental material, though none of it will knock your socks off. Included on this disc is a rather bland audio commentary with director Shawn Levy, five deleted scenes (in standard definition), alternate takes for various jokes, four 'extended scenes', a featurette that allows you spend a day on the set with Levy, a "Disaster Dates" feature where the actors tell you about some of their worst dates, a handful of smaller featurettes ("Directing Off Camera," "Steve and Tina's Camera Tests"), a gag reel, some PSAs (public service announcements) where Steve and Tina attempt to get us to see the movie, a theatrical trailer for the film and some 'sneak peeks' (Predators, Knight & Day, Best of F/X, Our Family Wedding). Finally, there is a second disc that features a digital copy for your portable device or computer.
Date Night is a fine time at the movies and a nice Blu-ray for fans of romantic comedies. Recommended as a purchase for Fey and Carell fans, and as a rental for everyone else.
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