Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: Date Night

I have come to the conclusion that nowadays, actors have to work so much harder than they used to. It's as if directors decide that it doesn't matter if the script is good, or the editing is good, or anything else, but as long as the acting is good, it will carry the movie, and Date Night is no exception.

Date Night is the story of Phil and Claire Foster (Tina Fey and Steve Carrell), who decide to spice things up a little bit on their normal date night, and end up hooking up with all the wrong people. After stealing reservations from The Triplehorns, and being mistaken for them by a couple of cops who are being paid off by a mobster (Ray Liotta), Claire and Phil must attain a stolen UPS drive, or face death from the many people that are after them. They seek the help of an old client with a private detective buisness (Marky Mark) and a police detective (the always sassy Taraji P. Henson), and eventually run into the Tripplehorns themselves (James Franco and Mila Kunis). Along the way, they both learn a lot about themselves, take a close look at their apparently boring marriage, and somehow learn to trust each other one again.

Director Shawn Levy knows how to direct big hits (like Night at the Museum), but has always sacrificed action and crude humor for quality of story, and his "vision" (if you can call it that) almost makes Date Night one to miss. There are some cool and funny action sequences, but the whole story feels contrived, and even the action sequences have been overplayed, using all the tricks in the book, without trying to make anything too original or too cool, in order to please an apparently dumbed down audience.

However, what saves the movie is the incredible cast. While the supporting characters are brief at best, there are some interesting cameos, and worthy performances among them. Excluding Ray Liotta and Mark Whalberg (Liotta for bascially trying to be too gangsta and Whalberg for relying on his body instead of actually acting), Taraji P. Henson was fiesty, Mila Kunis and James Franco were hilarious, Jimmi Fisher and Common play badasses well, William Fichtner is creepy as always, and Mark Ruffalo and Kristin Wiig make of the most of their very little screen time.

But the true saviours here are Tina and Steve. On their respective NBC sitcoms, they both play high strung, neurotic characters to a tee. And while they begin the movie playing these characters, the best part of their performances was the suprising depth. We truly see these two characters change and grow, and rekindle a long-lost passion, and none of that is because of some amazing script, but because of the growing talents of this pair. Furthermore, their chemistry, and perfect comedic timing only make the entire movie shine brighter than it had any right to. Maybe the two will receive some well-deserved Golden Globe nominations, but for now, get in your car, drive to the theater, and watch two incredible talents make you laugh for ass off for 90 minutes, cause its worth it.

Grade: B

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