Fred Goes on a Date Night
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
Don’t take this the wrong way. I mean it as a compliment. Date Night may not be very memorable, but it does passable comedy well. I mean, we won’t be quoting Date Night years from now and it won’t be what either Steve Carell or Tina Fey are remembered for, but it shows they can do Hollywood comedy better than most. So when you’re looking for something to serve its purpose, you can count on the pros to deliver, rather than risk it on some Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy.
Review: Date Night
Carell and Fey bring their own trademark rhythms to the story of suburban fatigue and mistaken identity. Sometimes it feels like they’re just laying it on top of a thin scene, but other times it really works. It’s never not funny, so why analyze it past that? Their recurring bits, like observing other couples, creates sweet, likeable banter.
Fey goes a long way towards portraying a wife that men will like, and women should admire. She takes stereotypically bitchy wives (played by one scene cameo players) down a peg in her intelligent highbrow way that sees right through the clichés. At least they play a couple who care about each other, which is more than most romantic movies start with.
They actually have grown-up conversations as married partners too. Since the movie is going to have that “heart” where they become closer as a couple through this adventure, at least these two pros can show it as a healthy example that audiences can aspire to be themselves. You can keep it funny without sniping at each other, and talk about real partnership issues, and have a resolution that improves both parties’ lives. For a movie most couples will watch while they’re scuffling the kids away, let’s hope some of it sinks in.
Both leads get equal chances to be heroic and funny, or they combine forces. It’s all balanced. I love running gags and there are a few that play repeatedly and keep getting funnier. There was one Tripplehorn joke that literally only I got. An entire crowded theater at a press screening and I was the only one laughing, but it was worth it. Thank you for that.
As mistaken identity plots go, this one is appropriately dire and ridiculous. It really moves, so it’s fast paced. The funniest scenes play out with other actors. So Fey and Carell are good together, but when they have a Mark Wahlberg, or James Franco and Mila Kunis riffing with them, it really comes alive.
The only thing that really sells the movie out are the music choices. It’s such generic pop that even gags that are genuinely original feel like standard Hollywood beats. And the obvious irony of “Blitzkrieg Bop” playing under boring suburban scenes is a groaner.
I started out by saying Date Night is ultimately a forgettable movie, but if it does elevate itself out of the bargain bin among Steve Carell and Tina Fey fans, hopefully there is something memorable about it. It really does have something to say about relationships. It says we all have the same problems whether we’re suburbanites or strippers. That’s a healthy perspective. It’s not that we have to fight, it’s that we can all work together. But since nobody’s probably going to get that message, they’ll just see another generic Steve Carell/Tina Fey movie.
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox
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