Date Night is one of those movies that are no-brainers for studios to produce. Take one part gal-of-the-moment TV star (Tina Fey), add one part male comedy lead (Steve Carell), and stir in a high-concept romp with a catchy title, and voila — you’ve got a formula for a hit comedy. At a brief 88 minutes, Date Night moves like a bullet train, which is fortunate since it’s neither particularly good nor memorable. That said, this is all harmless fun, sustained in part to its talented cast, some terrific chemistry, and a handful of laugh-out moments that keep the whole thing afloat.
Carell plays Phil Foster, married to Claire for about a decade. Their days consist of them taking care of their children and going to work and coming home and going to bed. But fortunately, they always try to find time to have a date night wherein they go out and spend some time together. When another couple announces they’re separating because they’re in a rut, Phil worries his relationship might be next on the chopping block, so when date night comes along, he decides to shake things up and take Claire into the city to a hot new restaurant.
But when it looks like they’re not going to get in, Phil decides to take the reservation of a couple who doesn’t show up. It isn’t long before things spin wildly (and I do mean wildly) out of control, when a couple of thugs approach their table with a threat on their lives if they don’t turn over a computer memory stick. With bad guys on their heels, the Fosters find temporary refuge in the apartment of perpetually shirtless Mark Wahlberg, who does what he can to help them out.
Things go from bad to worse as Carell and Fey spend a night from hell dodging bullets through the streets of New York City. There’s a crazy car chase that ensues that is so absurd, it feels like a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon. With cameos by James Franco and Mila Kunis, this hodgepodge Out of Towners wannabe tries desperately to dance as fast as it can before the final credits roll.
The moments that shine, however, involve its two likable stars. Fey and Carell are clearly playing variations of themselves, but it’s obvious the two got along during shooting based upon the amusing outtakes that play out over the end credits. Studios would wisely seek out better material to re-team the duo.
Extras include an amusing gag reel, some interesting featurettes including a Date Night PSA, “Directing 301 with Shawn Levy,” “Deleted & Extended Scenes,” “Disaster Dates with the Cast,” as well as “Steve and Tina Camera Tests.”
Date Night is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.