Date Night (Blu-ray)
There was only one way a movie starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell could not be great, and that’s if the filmmakers told Fey and Carell to not be Fey and Carell. Unfortunately, it seems that’s exactly what happened. The film had moments, but overall I wanted more traditional comedy from the two superstars and less of them trying to be action heroes.
Carell and Fey are Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple stuck in a rut that decides to branch out and go have dinner in the city. But when they take another couple’s reservation, they get mistaken for that couple, who happens to be involved in blackmailing a top government official that may or may not have ties to the mob. So our heroes go on the run and must find a way to clear their name, enlisting the help of a shirtless Mark Wahlberg. There are several issues with the film that prevent it from ever taking off, but one of the main problems is that they tried to hard to create a twisting, complicated plot. The point is not to try and tell a government conspiracy story or anything like that, the point is to get the two comedians into humorous situations. It’s not complicated and in 88 minutes, they didn’t have time to develop the story they tried to tell. If they had stuck with the two comedians running from the mob boss, it would have given more time to Fey and Carell to provide some laughs and less time trying to figure out a subplot we didn’t care about anyway.
We also have some other subplots going on that would have done well if they had been explored further. The Fosters kept comparing themselves to their friends (played by Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) who were going through a divorce because their marriage became stale. Obviously, the Fosters are concerned they’ll suffer the same fate. This worked as an underlying issue they deal with while on the run, but it could have also been a source of laughs that instead got pushed to the side. A stale marriage is something that every married person can relate to and it felt like there were more things to explore with that idea.
I actually liked the addition of Mark Wahlberg’s Holbrooke character as it gave them a legitimacy that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Since he actually knew what he was doing, it allowed the audience to accept some of the situations and some of the plot connectors. I also loved the running shirtless gag and enjoyed how everyone that came in contact with him had to mention it. But the single laugh-out-loud moment came when Carell impersonated Wahlberg to a hilarious degree. It made me want another like-scene in which Carell could play off the seriousness of Wahlberg.
Tina Fey’s strength comes with her comedy structure and the “unraveling” of comedy. As an actress, she’s not a naturally funny person and so I found myself not liking her as much in this as I have in her previous works. She, like Carell, is best when playing off someone else and we didn’t get enough of those moments. The whole film felt like it was being held back and the proof of this can be found on the outtakes, which turned out to be funnier than many of the scenes in the film.
Video: This transfer had some problems, most noticeably during dark scenes in the city. Although overall it is a decent transfer, there is some considerable grain/noise that can be distracting at times.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Deleted Scenes (5:47): These added nothing to the film but they were funny to watch, but that’s just because it’s Fey and Carell and they are funny no matter what.
Alt City (1:48): These were just alternate takes of some scenes, they were funny but we saw most of them during the credits.
Extended Scenes (10:25): It was good that these scenes were trimmed down because they added nothing to the plot, but they were worth the watch.
Directing 301 (21:48): This featurette follows director Shawn Levy and his crew as they work behind the scenes. They put a lot of work into this feature and it’s well worth the watch, you really don’t get too many features that aren’t full of film clips.
Disaster Dates (4:43): Just like it sounds, the cast and crew reminiscing about their bad dates. Not as many good stories as you would expect but worth the watch.
Directing Off Camera (3:46): This is really interesting to watch but hard to explain, basically Levy rolls the cameras and give direction during the scenes. He gives an introduction to this little featurette in which he explains everything.
Steve and Tina Camera Tests (3:10): Another introduction from Mr. Levy and then the screen test. Nothing too special here.
Gag Reel (5:49): Not a bad gag reel and quite fun to watch although there was some of that giggling at some unseen joke.
PSA’s (2:02): These were cute and a great way to promote a movie.