Chemistry is important. You could say that it makes the world go ’round (though that sounds like a dorky thing to say, if you ask me). In film, especially, chemistry is key when you have two people sharing a lot of screentime. Poor chemistry between characters can bring the whole film crashing down so hard, its sometimes painful to watch (although sometimes that makes it more fun, let’s be honest). In Date Night, fortunately, the two leads (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) have such amazing chemistry that its easy to forget that they’ve never actually worked together before… on anything.
The movie starts out simply enough, Carell and Fey are a married couple who are pretty firmly (yet, for the most part, happily) stuck in a rut. They are woken up at 5 am by a pile driver from one of their kids (a seemingly routine activity), they make breakfast and pack lunches, he goes to work as an accountant, she a realtor, and periodically they are reminded by their (slightly conniving) babysitter that its date night (hey, that’s the title of the movie!).
Their dates typically consist of a movie and potato skins at T.G.I. Friday’s and imagining what the stories behind other couples in the restaurant might be (an imrov-heavy bit that leads to some great lines in the gag reel). In this, we get a glimpse that the spark in their relationship has faded considerably; you have to be pretty hard-up for excitement to live vicariously through the other sad people at Friday’s.
The catalyst for the story comes one night at book club when its discovered that two of their married friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig, the latter of whom is apparently a prerequisite cameo for these kinds of movies) are getting divorced due to a lack of passion in their relationship (which is totally what Carell and Fey are going through, it all makes sense you guys!). This, of course, leads our stars to attempt to reignite their relationship by going out to dinner in the city and not getting a table and taking somebody else’s reservation and blah, blah, blah, I’m assuming you’ve seen the trailer at least one of the 5,000 times it’s been on TV, all this is covered there.
ANYWAYS, at dinner, two men (Jimmi Simpson and Common) ask them to step out back where its discovered that they’re the bad guys and mistaken identity and “You’ve got our macguffin” and “Kill-shot”… seriously, this is all in the trailer. The movie that follows is fairly predictable (as I predicted!), but that doesn’t stop it from being a heap of fun. As previously mentioned, Carell and Fey have such great chemistry that it doesn’t matter that the things they do in the movie are either ridiculous or have been done a thousand times before. Just watching them deal with the situations makes up for a lack of originality, but ultimately proves to not be enough to make the movie great.
What does help though is the superb supporting cast. Besides the previously publicized Jimmi Simpson, James Franco, and Mila Kunis, you have Taraji P. Henson as one of the uncorrupted cops, Mark Ruffalo, who does the best he can with one scene, it’s not much, but he does get a great joke about Gedde Watanabe. However the best parts come from William Fichtner and (the uncredited) Ray Liotta, both in full-on scenery chewing mode and both of whom light up the screen in their very brief roles.
Is Date Night an amazing movie? No. Is it a fun movie? Absolutely. Is it a great date movie? Probably. It’s all very well-worn territory, but the chemistry of the leads and a phenomenal supporting cast keep it steadily afloat. You don’t necessarily have to see it, but chances are you won’t be sorry if you do.
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on April 12, 2010