Steve Carell is funny. I have it on pretty good authority that Tina Fey is one of the funniest women on the face of this island Earth. So surely this film should be some kind of comedic alchemy? A meeting of hilarious minds so cataclysmically amusing as to destroy the very foundations that all humour is built on?
Maybe that's overstating it a bit, but anyway; it's not.
"Date Night" is a mildly amusing romp through a vaguely Hitchcocky mistaken-identity thriller plot, punctuated with cameos ranging from the entertaining to the infuriatingly pointless and wasteful.
Carrell and Fey play a complacently married couple who con their way into a swanky restaurant by claiming an absent couple's reservation. They are soon embroiled in a convoluted plot involving bent coppers, mob bosses, strip-clubs, car chases and Marky Mark.
It's a slight and simple experience - with a few token attempts at characterisation actually feeling unwelcome amidst the general tomfoolery - that will appropriately pass an hour and a half on a perfunctory date night. There is the feeling, however, of a missed opportunity here.
Carrell and Fey are cast as self-confessed "boring" characters, seriously hampering their comedy-potential and only allowing them to really generate laughs when their gift for absurdity shines through in some silly voice or non-sequitur, meaning it is up to the supporting players to steal the show.
James Franco does more in three minutes of screen-time than most actors manage in an entire career, Mila Kunis is a decent foil for him as the catty other half of the couple the leads are mistaken for, Marky Mark has his top off for an agreeably tongue-in-cheek appearance, and Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta and William Fichtner are completely wasted in appearances that amount to little more than "Hey, isn't that... oh, (s)he's gone.".
Anyway, this is one of those films where the majority of the good lines are in the trailer and the biggest laughs come from the blooper reel during the end credits. Neither an insult nor a compliment to the cinema or its audience, "Date Night" just kind of exists for a bit and then dissipates into the ether; forgotten as a dream upon waking, leaving you wondering if you ever saw it at all.
Personally, I would much rather have seen a film about Franco and Kunis' trashy scenestealers "selling stolen wheelchairs" for ninety minutes, but Franco was always my favourite in Spider-Man, and I genuinely think Kunis exudes solar illumination from a certain bodily orifice, so I may be biased.