Morrow and I had one of the bad kinds of Date Night experiences - the one where your time together ends with the girl checking into the Betty Ford Clinic, or shaving her head and trying to be a monk. Amazing, however, that this could have been spurred by a movie that starred Steve Carell and Tina Fey, some of the funniest people in showbiz today. What went wrong? How could these naturally entertaining people make a movie that doesn't remind us of this scientific fact?
Find out in this new episode of He Said - She Said, which is guaranteed to provide more freakouts and tears than ever before. I wonder if Morrow's experience with Date Night has given her Stockholm Syndrome?
PLOT: Claire and Phil Foster (Tina Fey and Steve Carell) are a suburban New Jersey couple simply walking through their marriage like it’s a routine. Phil decides to take Claire out in the city to rekindle the marriage. When they’re mistaken for another couple, suddenly their lives are at stake, involving cops, mobsters and a shirtless man. (Synopsis written by Jeff Bayer.)
As always, we recommend you see the movie (at a daytime matinee!) before reading, as spoilers are fair-game.
Gosh. I'm not sure what to say about Date Night, because it's not a good movie...but I enjoyed it. It's extremely formulaic and silly and unrealistic and sometimes kinda dumb, but I still laughed. In my humble opinion, you could put Tina Fey and Steve Carell in the worst movie in the world and as long as they get to adlib a few of their scenes, I'm still going to like it. I'm not sure what this says about me: I guess it says I'm slavishly devoted to Tina Fey and Steve Carell.
I mean Date Night is ridiculously stupid at times. The scene where the taxicab is linked to the Foster's stolen car and Carell decides to crawl across both hoods at sixty miles an hour--so mind-numbingly idiotic...but I still laughed because it's Steve Carell. I'm helpless when he's around. I just can't resist him and you put he and Tina Fey together and it's like the Mount Rushmore of funny. Obviously, it would've been better if the script had been stronger, but I'd still recommend it to people. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
I'm not sure about anything anymore. I'm having a crisis, here.
It's okay, Morrow, just breathe. In ... out ... in ... out. Feel better? I understand your crisis, but I am here to help you solve it. You see, I agree with you that Fey and Carell are a funny duo that could save even the worst movie ever. They could be in a movie about talking dogs that work for Al-Qaeda, and I would still laugh with the few one-liners they're given.
So with Date Night, even if the script that they're working with does not have as much pizazz as it should, we can be thankful that they're at least on the same semi-dorky brainwaves, which makes for watchable fun even if it could only last a very liberal first watch. They are certainly a believable couple, and we don't question for one moment why a guy like Steve Carell would marry someone like Tina Fey. This works, 100%.
The rest, not so much. For me, the movie was not as exciting as it could have been, especially the action sequences. I happened to like the double car bit, especially since I don't think I've ever seen that before in a film - but yes, Carell climbing from one car to the next, that doesn't make sense. But that scene was the height of adrenaline for a movie that could have had as much action as it did comedy. After all, who are the bad guys - just two crooked cops? Speaking of casting, and this is the movie's bad side (we can tackle the random bit-parts later,) did they really have to choose Common and one of the McPoyles from "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" to look intimidating with killshot gun handling?
I agree with your "meh"-ness but there are indeed some things we can discuss about Date Night before we both peacefully agree that it's not that great - it's certainly not as great as it could have been. For example, what did you think of the few action scenes? Did you also catch a whif of some writer's lazy plot construction once we learned that this entire thing is about ... a flash drive? I mean, I know it's 2010, but let's fasten those thinking caps, screenwriters.
Inhale...exhale...okay, you're right; that's much better. The paper bag helped, too.
Yeah, you have Common and the other guy as the bad cops, but then you have Mila Kunis and James Franco as the trashy couple and that's like early Christmas. So the casting was weird, because it was either perfect and hilarious or bad without anything in between. (By the way, favorite Franco line: "You never want to have sex with me anymore; and forget about backdoor!").
And yes to the lazy scriptwriting. Big, huge, yes. Or maybe not so much lazy as not sure how to get from one point to another, so huge, impractical leaps in plot are required. For example, when Phil figures out that the mob thinks they (the Fosters) are the Tripplehorns and that the real Tripplehorns have a flashdrive with sensitive information on it, Phil decides to...go find the flashdrive themselves? That to me was the hardest to swallow, because NO ONE would do that. You'd just keep looking for people to help you until you were safe; you wouldn't go from scared and on the run to vigilantism without even a whiff of a training sequence or a montage. But it's a funny idea, so they jumped up and down on it until the square peg was squished into the round hole.
Just thinking about parts of this movie make me remember how hugely crappy it is in parts, but I'd still recommend it! I still laughed like a crazy person, because it's Steve Carell and Tina Fey! If they started a cult right now, I'd go merrily off to shave my head and distance myself from my loved ones.
It's funny that you mention plausibility, as this is one rare instance where I feel a script could benefit from more bits of loose logic, as in, the story could have been wilder, but still remained somewhat believable. Sigh.
I think you have to really gauge the amount of laughs that Date Night gave you, and just exactly how much of them are really worth paying for. Because I try not to be an advocate for bad experiences, I say that this is definitely a rental, and it would be a pretty good one. To see this in theatres is risky, especially when the outtakes may be the funniest part of the entire experience.
Date Night is odd in that it has a barely acceptable amount of funny lines, but those moments of dork banter are equally doled between Carell and Fey, which causes them to, as you say, laugh like a crazy person. But the overall total of laughs is too short for a movie that stars the two. One way the film could have fixed this was by putting them in disguises more often - the duo are positively HILARIOUS when they are dressing up and putting up fake presences. I am grateful that the movie showed outtakes TWICE (during the credits, and at the very end), because this really drives my point home. The writer should have taken advantage of the many voices that Carell and Fey like to do when spying on couples (which is a very funny segment in the beginning) and sprinkled those moments throughout. They don't have to be actors in the story to explain why they use disguises, they can just continue what Date Night makes them out to be - an efficient duo with a goofy sense of humor.
The movie spends SO much time building them up as Joe and Josephina Q. Public that I just don't think their natural plan B would be to track down the real bad guys, somehow get the flashdrive and try to survive the night, all while battling corrupt cops and underworld types. Those two are like me--I can hardly get out of bed in time to get to school, let alone foil some huge, insidious plot. But then, I'm not as funny, so somehow it's forgivable. I don't see how the plot could've gotten wilder and retained its believability when it was never that believable in the first place; it's quite possible you're just way more imaginative than I am.
You really think it's a rental? I'd say it's a perfect matinee: it's cheaper and you still get to eat a stale bucket of 60 grams of fat and drink your ice-cold Diabetes type 2. I mean, obviously it's fine as a rental, but I still think the theater experience is worth it for this one.
By the way, do you know you use the British spelling of theater? Do you also use colour and shout "Bollocks!" at people?
And you're right: dress those two up in costumes and we have ourselves a party. My favorite disguise in the movie was when they were the snotty New York couple in Claw (You're welcome). Give me one scene that made you really laugh.
You are right - I underestimated the power of the cheap matinee. So yes, ladies and gents, Date Night is not actually a good movie for an actual date night. Why? It's not worth eleven dollars (well, 22 if chivalry is being obeyed by the dudes) but it is worth a date day, or ... something to see after lunch. Sometimes, I wish movie critics would judge flicks by how much money people should pay to enjoy them. I think that would be funny.
As for laughs, the scene outside of the strip club made me laugh the hardest. I shot out a big gut laugh Alien style when Tina Fey said "I don't even have any gum!" And yes, this is another example where the disguises really prove to be the best comedic outlet for the two.
Have you started to regain consciousness, or should I just give up in helping you realize that Date Night is OK, but that's just not enough?
Oh yeah, and ... "bollocks!"
As I'm writing this I've got my head between my knees and not in a sexy way.
You put any other actors in that movie and it's ass. It's big, smelly, pale-white, hairy ass. It's another dumb formula and I go on and on about how much I hate it and how Hollywood is full of soulless, blood-suckers and I rant until I pass out. But NOOOOOO, they had to go and cast the two most adorable, likable, wonderful comedians out there and now I'm out recommending this swill to people. Why can't you understand that it's not okay, Nick? This isn't okay! It's like black is white and left is down and blue is triangle. The world doesn't make sense any longer. It's all a horrible mess and this room has turned into an Escher painting...holy sh*t, are those stairs upside down? How can you be so calm about all this?
GAME OVER, MAN! GAME OVER!
I'm going to go sit in the closet until I'm feeling better.
I wish you a speedy recovery, Morrow. Perhaps some in-take of "The Office" or even "30 Rock" (which I have never seen but of course have heard good things) will put into perspective the true comedic potential that Carell and Fey have. Either way, maybe when you mentally step back (perhaps you should go to Tibet for a while, but only until next Thursday when we need you again for more reviews), things might make more sense, or at least your nerves won't explode at the thought of recommending a movie like Date Night. Our head honcho Jeff Bayer gave it higher marks (a 7/10), but even said to me that if I was married, "[I'd] like the movie more." I respect that idea but since I am not married, the movie will still be a 5/10 or maybe a really charitable 6/10 for me.
Good luck with your rehab, Morrow!