Movie News & Reviews

Fey, Carell save tired 'Date Night'

People bitch about their daily rituals a lot like the solution isn'ttotally obvious.

Tired of brushing your teeth in the morning? Well, brush them withHershey's syrup instead, Mr. Imagination. Or bet the Internet you'reso hardcore you can bash out your own teeth with a hammer, then useyour winnings to buy some stainless steel dentures. Spice up thedrudgery of Spaghetti Wednesday by poisoning one of the meatballs. ifyou hate making spaghetti that much, accidentally eating the secrethidden treasure will come as a welcome relief.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

The flip side of that coin is some of your rituals are already asawesome as they get. Not to get too far into the male Internetuser's venerable pastime of fixating on the bangability of famouswomen, but as in Date Night, if it's become a deadening taskto get slippery with Tina Fey, I don't think there's any hope left foryou.

Fey and Steve Carell's marriage has hit a comfortable rut. To shakethings up, Carell takes his wife out to dinner in the city, which goesgreat until they're mistaken for criminals by two armed thugs who tryto kill them over a missing flash drive.

Carell and Fey go to the police — and learn their attackers are cops,too. Unable to trust the law, they light out through Manhattan totrack down the missing flash drive before the killers hunt them down.

I wish Fey and Carell really were married. Twenty years fromnow, their offspring could make the perfect comedy, a movie so funnythe nation's collective abs would be so hardened by laughter you coulduse them to plate the space shuttle. Despite that, plastic surgerywould become the hottest career on the planet after everyone's cheeksexplode from overgrinning.

Or maybe those kids would just be the funniest patients in rehab. Ahwell. Back in this tragically mundane reality (would somebody inventnew-car-trees already?), the pair is at least able to make DateNight too funny to hate on even though I'd like to.

Their improv-heavy, awkward-but-game style rescues a movie that showsevery sign of wanting to suck. I imagine director Shawn Levy's adviceto his actors went something like "Good, but next time you think youcould yell at each other a little louder? I mean, yes, my ears arebleeding, but I'm looking for gushing."

Meanwhile, writer Josh Klausner's running jokes are as flat as aflounder's bluejeans. No amount of outrage at Carell's thievery ofsomeone else's dinner reservation will make me laugh, and you'retalking about someone who laughs every time he sees a robot.Incidentally, when Fey and Carell pantomime robot sex, I would havechoked on the popcorn I would have stolen from the girls in front ofme if they hadn't inconsiderately not bought any damn popcorn.

The emotional angle isn't any stronger than the 60-odd gags about ashirtless Mark Wahlberg. What is older? Stories about married coupleswho've lost their spark? Or the atoms of hydrogen in the glaze thatforms on my eyes when I hear about them? The specifics of Carell andFey's relationship problems are shoehorned into Date Nightwithout warning or setup, which is nice, because that frees us up tonot care about them in the slightest.

Yet despite the tired plot, worthless side characters and half-bakedwriting, Date Night's a pretty funny film. If I had to guess,I'd say that has something to do with its two leads.

Grade: C+