Tina Fey and Steve Carrell equal comedy gold, right? Well, if you’re talking about their TV shows, 30 Rock and The Office, you’re right on the money. When it comes to Date Night, their new big-screen comedy opening April 9th? Not so much. The pair work overtime to bring their first movie pairing to life and the results are definitely mixed.
Fey and Carrell play Claire and Phil Foster, a suburban New Jersey couple who are very much caught up in the family grind. Both work all day, run around after their kids afterward and collapse into their bed too tired for sex. When they decide to inject excitement into their usual weekly date by dining in Manhattan, they end up in a too-cool-for-you Manhattan eatery without a reservation, then proceed to steal a no-show couples’ spot. The problem: two thugs (Common, whose freckles and curly lashes scare no one, and Jimmi Simpson), come looking for the no-shows, a couple named the Tripplehorns, who stole a flash drive from a mafia boss. A night of mistaken identity, increasingly implausible plot lines and cameos come next.
Stick around till the end credits, which feature outtakes and bloopers from several scenes, and you’ll see just how much improvising Fey and Carrell did in the movie. That’s not surprising, or even a bad thing, but it’s not enough on which to base an entire movie. And at times, it does feel like the whole movie IS Fey and Carrell, and every other character and line of dialogue is just filler. Scenes in which the couple seem to rekindle the romance in their relationship are sweet and satisfying, and several cameos do work: Especially good are James Franco and Mila Kunis as the Tripplehorns, a pothead couple who love and brawl with equal passion. But Taraji P. Henson is utterly wasted as a detective that eventually comes to the Fosters’ rescue, Kristen Wiig is likewise underused as a neighbor ecstatic at the thought of sleeping with three dudes after her divorce.
See Date Night if you're looking for a few chuckles, but if you're actually on a date, you may want to explore more exciting options.