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.
WHO'S IT FOR? Without a doubt, this one is obvious, you're going to see it coming ... this one is for married couples. The other audience will simply consist of people looking to see Carell and Fey at the top of their game.
EXPECTATIONS: This is one of those films I was hoping for. I wasn't hoping it would be good. I was hoping it wouldn't suck. Because Fey and Carell are my fake TV friends, I want to see them do well, and I don't want this film to be a waste of time.
Steve Carell as Phil Foster: For a man with a boring life, Phil seems to jump into action a little too easily, and a little too much. I would have loved this character to have more fear. Sure, he can vomit pretty easily, but I needed more of that personality. Now, don't get me wrong, Carell is hilarious. He brought to mind the good version of Steve Martin for me. He has impeccable comedic timing with Fey, and in this role he proved he is the go-to guy if Hollywood needs a funny dad. Score: 8
Tina Fey as Claire Foster: If Carell is the go-to guy, Fey is the go-to girl. She's the standout in this film. It's great to see her shine in a film (I wasn't a huge fan of Baby Mama). You either have to watch this film twice, or hold in your laughter, otherwise you'll miss some of the tasty little lines Fey spits out. Two of my favorites; "I bet you do all kinds of right" and "I don't really have gum." Score: 9
Mark Wahlberg as Holbrooke: He's redefining the role of Shirtoff. You may remember in my review of The Last Song I said Liam Hemsworth has joined the Shirtoff club, and Matthew McConaughey is the obvious president. Well, Wahlberg is clearly a founding father as well. Holbrooke sees no need for a shirt, and it remains funny the entire film. Plus, even Phil finds him attractive. Score: 8
Rest of Cast: Every bad guy is over-the-top in a film that attempts to stay somewhat real. You're at least expected to believe the Foster's could be like you. So Common, Ray Liotta, William Fitchner and the rest don't really work for me here. However, the nice little additions of Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, James Franco and Mila Kunis are fantastic. It's definitely a case where you take the good, and you take the bad. Did I just put "The Facts of Life" theme song in your head? Score: 7
TALKING: The timing might just be a hint better than the dialogue. Carell and Fey sell this stuff and I'm not sure a lesser couple could do the same. I've already mentioned some specific lines from Fey's character. When talking about relationships, you can relate. Plus, the movie never makes you worry about Phil and Claire's love for each other. I appreciate that. Score: 8
SIGHTS: The big action scene is the car cash, where a cab gets stuck together with the car Phil and Claire are driving. The green screen is a little obvious here (when used). Plus, the chase seems to go on forever. I have nothing else to really complain about, this isn't a visually dazzling picture, but then again it's not supposed to be. Score: 6
SOUNDS: I actually only remember two songs. "Blitzkrieg Bop" by the Ramones hit the beginning of the film, and worked pretty well. To end the film they went with "Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson. Both were easy choices that worked. Oh wait, I think I remember hearing John Mayer as well. Not sure if that was a new song. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: Taste and Whippit. I'm sure the cameos from Franco and Kunis will quickly lead couples everywhere to naming their children after them. Sure, it's absurd when these two couples get together, but at least the film keeps the structure and focus of this scene on the couples and not the action.
ENDING: Everyone dies. Yes, I was surprised too. OK, kidding. It's a comedy, what do you think happens in the end? There are some outtakes during the credits, and the highlight there is when Fey imitates a young woman at a restaurant.
QUESTIONS: Couldn't we have had either Phil or Claire be a little more worried about this situation? My vote would have been for Phil constantly panicking and then coming through in the clutch. Here's the thing: for all that action, was there ever a moment of suspense or worry? Plus, I never cared how things would work out in the end, did you? Yes, I'm surprised that with those complaints, I still liked this movie.
REWATCHABILITY: The movie is just under an hour and a half. I could easily watch this again and skip over the boat house, the car cash and the action ending. That gives me a solid hour of fun.
The first twenty minutes of this film are painfully perfect. Perhaps the single people out there don't believe me when I say that, but trust me. My wife and I don't have kids, but she works long hours and has a bite guard for grinding her teeth, so there have definitely been "straight to bed" nights. Normally the truth can hurt, but here it's just funny. When things get wacky (and by wacky I mean "mild-mannered Phil knocking two thugs out in a boat house"), the film becomes hit and miss. The action ... miss. The comedic timing between Carell and Fey ... hit. Not just a hit, a huge hit. They are my new favorite fake married couple. I want/expect them to get together every two years and make married couple movies together. Sometimes, all you need for "date night" is hanging out with a good couple, that's what you get with Date Night.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10