Date Night - DVD Review

'moments of warm comedy make Date Night a pleasant watch, if not an hilarious one'

For those already turned off by Date Night the argument that it 'could have been much worse' might be a difficult one to reach agreement on but lets try anyway...

Director Shawn Levy is the man behind previous films of dubious comedic worth such as both Night At The Museums, The Pink Panther remake and Just Married. His output follows similar tonal patterns of generally family-friendly fun with an occasionally risque joke that backfires significantly. But it's not all bad. Because in someone else's hands Josh Klausner's script about a couple who, on their date night, are mistaken for another couple who have done some Really Bad Things, could have been a romantic comedy.

The elements are all here. Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a long-time married couple with hard jobs and dependant kids. They love each other but they're stuck in a rut, in desperate need of excitement. If the film had taken another direction this could have been a horrible mess centered around the Foster's break-up and inevitable pre-credits reconciliation. Instead, Levy - doing what he does... erm... 'best' - centres on the comedy, playing everything for laughs and allowing the Foster's relationship to play through as just another unsuspecting character in a plot centered on unsuspecting characters.

Like his other efforts there are elements that work and elements that don't. When Carell is left alone on screen for example you feel like he's over-improvising in only the way Steve Carell can. His manic screaming ('kill shot... KILL SHOT' is the most recognisable example from the trailers) just isn't funny and when Levy leaves him to his shtick the film suffers.

Together with Fey or another foil though, there are some moments of warm comedy which make Date Night a pleasant watch, if not an hilarious one. William Fichtner is a villain straight out of Levy's stock of bawdy archetypes and with the rest of the film populated with cameos from Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig and Mila Kunis there's just too much talent here not to like absolutely everything on show.

Levy won't win over any new fans with the latest entry in what feels like his ongoing series of distinctly average comedies but Fey and Carrel are likable enough and the cast of cameoing stars provide welcome moments of diversion from the otherwise standard script. And honestly... it could have been much worse.

Look further...

'Frivolous and mindless, Date Night sees Tina Fey and Steve Carell transform an uneven screenplay into a perfectly enjoyable comedy' - Anomalous Material, 7/10


  1. I was disappointed by this film. I remarked to my brother that it felt like an unfunny 80s buddy comedy. Considering the talent involved it should have been so much better but I found it dour and average. To me Levy is a workmanlike director whose films manage to bring in the $ despite being so tame and lacking a sense of identity other than 'generic family fun'.

    You're right, it could have been worse, but it is very forgettable

  2. Yes, I don't hugely disagree with any of your points there but I did find it funny enough to enjoy it, if not to say 'this is really good'! Levy is not a great director by any means but he's produced much worse than this and whilst that isn't a piece of praise for DATE NIGHT it does at least go some way towards suggesting that it's not an awful film. Agree with your conclusion too - in a few month's time I won't remember anything about this.

  3. Franco and Kunis owned this movie.

  4. I agree, it was ok but not great. I think many had high hopes for it being it was Steve Carrell and Tina Fey.

  5. Simon - yes, agree. Their part is one of the funniest single scenes in the film.

    Film Gurl - good point and perhaps one reason why I didn't dislike it as much as some seem to. I'm not a Carrell fan and I don't really know much of Fey's work.