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Date Night

Date Night

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

STEVE Carell and Tina Fey, two of the small screen’s biggest stars thanks to the success of The Office and 30 Rock, help to transform Shawn Levy’s Date Night into a fun romp of a popcorn experience.

The two actors share some terrific chemistry, as well as a keen ability to improvise, and thereby transform what could otherwise have been a bog-standard Levy vehicle into something far better.

They play over-worked husband and wife Phil and Claire Foster who decide to reinvigorate their relationship by hitting the town, only to find themselves at the centre of a mistaken identity scenario involving corrupt cops, violent drug dealers, mobsters and dubious government officials.

Levy is no stranger to box office success, having directed the Night At The Museum movies, as well as Cheaper By The Dozen and The Pink Panther, but as huge as each of those movies has become, they’ve failed to really tickle the funny bone.

By opting to get a little more edgy, the director almost strikes comedy gold… benefiting from the huge talent of his star duo, as well as cameos from the likes of James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg and Mark Ruffalo.

First and foremost, however, the film belongs to Fey and Carell, whose ability to be funny while retaining an everyman sensibility provides the film with a couple worth rooting for.

Early on, scenes with their kids as they struggle to muster the energy to be civil to each other are brilliantly observational and likely to strike a chord with anyone in their position.

While their later adventures, if a little OTT at times, are always amusing thanks to their skill with facial expressions and their quick-witted ability to deliver a killer quip.

Levy deserves some of the credit, too, for tossing in a couple of sight gags and stunts that are also very funny.

His ability to attract starry support, meanwhile, provides the film with a continued ability to surprise and stay fresh, whether it’s James Franco and Mila Kunis’ bickering couple, Mark Wahlberg’s straight-faced (and topless) toyboy, or Ray Liotta’s suitably aggressive gangster.

Date Night is by no means a classic movie and, given the talent involved, could have been a great deal more memorable. But as a fun and often exciting form of big screen escapism, it has plenty to recommend it.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 87mins
UK DVD Blu-ray Release: September 13, 2010