Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson
Director: Shawn Levy
He might now be one of the most commercially successful directors in Hollywood today, but Shawn Levy's films have always relied heavily on their stars: his last two Night of the Museum movies, for example, mostly thrived on Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Amy Adams and Hank Azaria injecting hilarity into even the most tiring of proceedings. The same could well be said of Date Night: Levy has only his gamely cast to thank in generating some glitter and gags in a film that simply makes too little go too far.
The premise begins simple and engaging enough: Tina Fey and Steve Carell (above) play Claire and Phil Foster, a couple whose marriage has lost its shine, with their domestic lives becoming as much a drag as their boring jobs (him an accountant, her a real-estate agent). Their decision to spice up their routine by dining out at a fashionable Manhattan restaurant, however, turns awry when they assume the identity of another couple to snag a table. A race across New York ensues with both corrupt and good cops on their trails, their escapade coming complete with car chases, security break-ins and a conspicuous product placement for a new electronic book-reading device.
The fact the last bit happens during one of the film's most high-octane sequences speaks volumes about Date Night's unhinged nature - Levy seems either unsure of what he wants his film to be, or greedy enough to roll drama, slapstick and thriller into one so as to draw in the widest audience. The result is the comedy grinds to a halt when the story goes off on yet another tangent.
Which is a shame, as Carell and Fey provide the most laughs in the film, and they could have given Date Night the pathos it needs as they play out - and up - the banal existence of a couple trying to reignite what's left in a seemingly withered matrimony.
Date Night opens today