Saturday, 28 July 2012

Film Review | Date Night (2010)

As I've said before, the worst kind of review to write is of the film that doesn't give you a lot to say about it. Great films are a pleasure to write about. Awful films at least give you plenty of material, and at times can be fun to dissect. But middle-of-the-road fare, the film that's never awful but never particularly good, can prove frustratingly difficult to write about. Date Night is one of those films.

The film stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey as married couple Phil and Claire Foster who find their lives dull and driven by routine. Trying to break out of their humdrum existence, Phil organises a date night at a fancy restaurant. However, after a case of mistaken identity, the two find themselves caught up in something far more dangerous than they could have imagined.

Simply put, Date Night is distinctly average at best. Carell and Fey are okay as leads, not dire but not great either. The chemistry between them is limited, and I never really bought into them as a realistic couple. This isn't helped by the minuscule amount of development they - or indeed anyone in this film - receives. They're ground down by their lives at the start of the story, get caught up in a cops-and-robbers saga driven by  a forgettable MacGuffin, and that's about it. We never get any real indication that anything will change after the credits roll.

What makes Date Night slightly worse than your average "average film" is that it really should have been better than average. Mark Wahlberg turns up in support, as does James Franco, but both are severely underutililsed and almost seem a bit embarrassed to be there. Seeing Ray Liotta reduced to a bit-part crime boss in a mediocre film like this is especially painful, and just serves to remind the audience of the talent going to waste here.

Ultimately, Date Night never really delivers anything it attempts. The comedy is never funny enough, the action never exciting enough and the story generally feels like it was made up as director Shawn Levy went along, losing my interest way before the final act. Its saving grace is that it's entirely forgettable; you'll never have a hankering to rewatch it, and you'll probably struggle to remember any specific scenes or lines much afterwards. It's bubblegum cinema, but unfortunately the flavour is gone a few chews too early.


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