Tuesday, 6 April 2010


20th Century Fox Films
Now Showing

In the late 2009 release, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker played an estranged New York couple who, having witnessed a crime, were placed into witness protection and sent to hide out in Montana. In their haste to leave NYC, the Morgans forgot to pack their sense of humour and as such the film was a chore.

Not so Date Night, with the filmmakers getting off on the right foot by casting two funny leads, Steve Carell and Tina Fey. They play the Fosters, Phil and Claire, who are not so much estranged from each other as they are from of a life that does not revolve around work and kids. They're in a marital rut and it is on one of their weekly scheduled date nights that they decide to shake things up.

The New Jersey residents head into the city for dinner at Claw, an exclusive new seafood restaurant which is, of course, one of those establishments where a reservation is required a month in advance. But not to be perturbed, the Fosters pretend to be the Tripplehorns, reservation no-shows, and that's where their troubles begin.

Mistaken for a couple of blackmailers who had arranged a meet at the restaurant, the Fosters find themselves running from bad guys and dodging bullets, scrambling through New York and committing a litany of crimes as they evade capture and try to get to the bottom of their predicament.

This includes frequent detours to the apartment of security expert, Holbrooke (Mark Wahlberg), a former client of Claire's whom she no doubt remembers for his penchant for going shirtless. There's also a run-in with the real Tripplehorns, played by James Franco and Mila Kunis, a couple of low-rent crims who go by the pseudonyms of Taste and Whippit. The two sets of couples trading insults is hilarious.

I'm no fan of Steve Carell, I can take him or leave him. He's on my list of funny men I just don't find funny but not as near the top as Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson. But Carrell and Tina Fey work well together. Fey, smart and funny, is the writer, executive producer and star of TV's 30 Rock (a good show which Channel 7 sees fit to bury in a ridiculous time slot) and is perhaps best known for her impersonation of that political aberration, Sarah Palin.

Fey may be more TV than film star, but she's good fun here and a better sport than your run-of-the-mill actresses in so-called comedies. Fey doesn't do vanity or cute; she can be as blue as the boys can (stick around for the closing credit outtakes for proof of that). Here's hoping she hosts the Oscars sooner rather than later.

Date Night is directed by Shawn Levy, who made last year's sequel to Night at the Museum, and if I'd known that beforehand, I may have been prepared for the worst. But the film succeeds by being funny. Silly, yes, but funny none the less, and that can't be underestimated. If you've seen the aforementioned Morgans or The Bounty Hunter, you'll know what I mean.

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