The Collegian
Friday, September 18, 2020

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Featured Flick: Date Night

Tina Fey and Steve Carell are a boring married couple that, on a Mark Ruffalo fear-inspired whim, goes to a restaurant, steals someone's reservation and ends up being chased by crooked cops. Then there's a car chase that's pretty fantastic and a pole-dancing scene that made me laugh until I cried.

This is a watered-down comedy that somehow sucked in two genuinely funny actors. The background story about a Mafioso trying to track down dirty pictures is really just noise, something else to pay attention to while the director shushed Fey and Carell -- a mortal sin in comedy movies. Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Wiig and Bill Burr, among other actors and comedians who are better than this movie, get demoted to "boring couple" buddies and really just waste screen space. The only accessory characters who barely manage to hold up their parts are Mila Kunis and James Franco, who had their dinner reservation stolen by Fey and Carell. As far as white trash goes, they did a pretty genuine, heart-felt and funny job.

Fey and Carell, however, ad-libbed the funniest lines in the film, which are injected like adrenaline into the rest of the dry and generic "boring-couple-being-chased" story. It's particularly tragic to think that many movie-goers will be seduced into watching this because of Fey and Carell because they only provide about 20 minutes worth of comedy gold.

The best parts of this film are spot-on and hilarious, though. The scene in which Fey and Carell finagle their way into an elitist Manhattan restaurant as Will.i.Am's personal assistants should have been longer. Also, the topsy-turvy car chase, featuring J.B. Smoove as a lemons-into-lemonade cabbie, is great fun and both long and short enough to be memorable.

But nothing captures the film's lost potential better than the strip club scene in which Fey and Carell exotic dance their way into a sleazy politician's lap. I could have watched Carell as a "sexy worm" and both comedians as awkward stripper robots the whole time and I probably would have cry-laughed hard enough to give myself an aneurism. In fact, they could have just packaged the movie as a 20-minute short film of Fey and Carell as strippers and I would have paid full price to see it.

Contact reporter Jordan Trippeer at jordan.trippeer@richmond.edu

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