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Corrupt cops, camp dancing, and a terrified couple
on 13 August 2012
The genre of comedy-thriller has been known for producing some frankly turgid films, but thankfully 'Date Night', with its promising pairing of Steve Carrell and Tina Fey is, whilst inconsistent, a decent film. 'Date Night' stars Carrell and Fey as Phil and Claire Foster, a suburban couple who find themselves in deep water on a night out, after pinching a dinner reservation from a couple whom, unbeknownst to them, are being hunted by two corrupt cops - Jimmy Simpson and Common, respectively. In a case of mistaken identity, the Fosters' night out leads them around New York, trying to escape the dodgy policemen, track down the criminal couple whose reservation they stole, and using the services of a perma-shirtless security expert, Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg), to end the madness. The plot is undoubtedly ridiculous, but it allows for a handful of genuinely hilarious moments, from Phil's' need to tow a terrified taxi driver round NYC, with their cars stuck together (watch out for the 'kindle moment' - the funniest gag in the film) and Phil and Claire's attempt at dancing dirty, for the hilarious, perverted governer Frank Crenshaw (an excellent turn from William Fichtner).
Despite a handful of brilliant gags, one or two excellent action sequences, and some surprisingly decent dramatic plotting, 'Date Night' does have its flaws. The film drags a bit in places, and the 'Extended Edition' of this DVD provides adds another ten minutes onto a running time that was already long enough to include all the film's best bits, and a few dull moments besides. There are also a few characters who just don't work, such as a babysitter whom suddenly turns nasty, and Wahlberg's irritating Holbrooke Grant (though Claire's flustered, flirty chemistry around him is wonderfully judged). Indeed, the film as a whole hangs together a little uncomfortably, and the mixture of wry and slapstick comedy, with genuinely dark moments, doesn't ever quite gel, but there are enough good performances, decently-staged dramatic moments, and genuine laughs (an attempt to escape the cops in a very slow boat being one of the finest) to make 'Date Night' worth a watch.