Monday, April 12, 2010

Skip this 'Date'

"Date Night"
Two stars

By Thomas Tracy

Be warned: “Date Night” is a bad date movie.

Any love-birds banking on earth-cracking comedic fireworks from the combination of Steve Carell and Tina Fey that could build up to something more explosive later (wink, wink) will be sorely disappointed. But, honestly, it’s not them, it’s everything else.

There’s no doubt that the Peacock power couple (Carell’s from NBC’s “The Office,” Fey is the creative force behind “30 Rock”) sparkle, but even their talents can’t bulk up the tired, floss-thin plot that scriptwriter Josh Klausner must have given up on after he heard who was headlining.

As Phil and Claire Foster, Fey and Carell show there’s nothing very fun about raising two kids in a New Jersey suburb. In a desperate attempt to liven up their staid marriage, they decide to flip their tired weekly date night on its ear and go to — gasp! — New York City for dinner.

Proving they’re not Manhattanites, the two try to get into some new chic restaurant with a month-long waiting list. They then commit a cardinal sin in the dining world: stealing someone else’s reservation.

Karma kicks the couple in the keister when they learn the mob is gunning for the couple they’ve impersonated.

Thus begins a crazed night-long series of idiotic and downright improbable hoops the Fosters need to jump through as they scramble to get out of the city alive. That’ll teach them to steal someone’s reservation!

Masters at physical comedy as well as playing “fish out of water” characters, Carell and Fey mine as many laughs as possible from the hare-brained challenges put in front of them. The laughs double when they finally catch up with the crazed couple they’re impersonating (James Franco and Mila Kunis) and seek out a perennially shirtless securities expert (a very subdued Mark Wahlberg) for help.

Yet, as the blooper reel at the end can attest to, it would have been simpler if someone just followed Carell and Fey around Manhattan with a video camera, letting them write the script as they went along.

It probably would have been one of the funniest documentaries in history.

“Date Night.” Starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Directed by Shawn Levy. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference.


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