Date Night (Devil’s Advocate Review)
When you have a Steve Carell and a Tina Fey on board for a film, you let them do their thing. If you rein in talent of that caliber, your film just might suffer. Let funny people be funny.
That last statement isn’t completely fair, because Carell and Fey are funny in Date Night. The funniest stuff, however, is obviously ad-libbed. At the end of the film there are outtakes showing the different ways in which a scene was shot, and we see many of the funnier parts replayed, with different, improvised dialogue. The implication is that the more loose, off the cuff moments were born out of the comic pairing, rather than the script itself. Which is great for the film, but those moments were few and far between.
With a pair like Carell and Fey, you typically get a who’s-who of celebrity cameos. With the exception of James Franco and Mila Kunis, every other cameo seems as if they are props in the film, meandering about without any real insight as to their purpose. Mark Wahlberg is a chiseled statue of a figure that occasionally speaks. Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig serve as foils and nothing more, bringing little to the film in the form of real entertainment. The problem here isn’t miscasting, but rather misuse of some talented actors.
In a picture with Date Night‘s premise, there is bound to be action. Carell and Fey are on the run from mobsters because of a case of mistaken identity. There is shooting, running, and, ultimately, car chasing. Up to a point the action is moderately believable, and then smack dab in the middle falls a pivotal car chase scene where, the film, for lack of a better term, “jumps the pier”. From that point on the more action packed moments are marred by the ridiculousness of this one scene. Again, not really playing to the strengths of the lead actors.
As the Devil’s Advocate I was disappointed with the more restrained Carell and Fey pairing. The funniest actors in television are brought together on the big screen, and are held back by a timid script. The cameos are there for show and the action ebbs and flows.
Both masters of the verbal and visual gag, bringing the right amount of nervous energy and deadpan delivery, Fey and Carell were fantastic together, despite the script’s failings. The story is fairly standard, but is enhanced by the performances and the few notable cameos are fanatstic, in and of themselves. Date Night is a fun date film, but I’m sure the title gave that away already.