Early Buzz on Date Night

Senior Editor
04.09.10 9 Comments

I love Tina Fey, even if she is a goody two shoes, ooh-look-at-me-I-don’t-do-drugs nerd.  And even though he’s burned us a couple times, I still give Steve Carell the benefit of the doubt.  That said, the first trailer for Date Night was about as funny as a hate crime (and I don’t mean the hilarious kind against clowns). Seriously, mother-in-law jokes?  What year is it?  Anyway, here’s what the early reviews have been saying.  Spoiler alert: they’re better than I expected.

Here’s proof that Tina Fey and Steve Carell could squeeze laughs out of a phone book. Josh Klausner’s script rivals the Yellow Pages for dry and utilitarian.And yet their teamwork turns it into comic bliss. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

“Date Night” is a product substantially inferior to the material routinely finessed by Carell and Fey, on their respective hit shows, into comic gold. And yet “Date Night” gets by, almost despite itself, on the durability and wiles of its stars.  The people on-screen keep saving this one, none more so than James Franco and Mila Kunis. As lowlifes mixed up in the Tripplehorn saga, they give “Date Night” a shot in the arm, simply for the way Franco says the line, “Like I wanna spend the rest of my life selling stolen wheelchairs!” -Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune.

Watching these two intensely likable comedians work together is a special pleasure.  The comedy turns coarse during a garishly overproduced car chase. (Ditto for the broadness of William Fichtner’s dissolute district attorney.) That’s a pity, but hardly a mystery. Under pressure from less expensive forms of entertainment, the studios fear that small-scale films—even distinctive little films like this one—won’t find an audience unless they’re bulked up with production values. (And a car chase in the trailer will surely sell tickets.) Not to worry, though. “Date Night” is too good to be wrecked by reckless driving. -Joe Morganstern, Wall Street Journal.

“Date Night” is funny because, against all odds, it is involving. Each crazy step in the bizarre plot made a certain sense because it followed from what went before; it’s like the Scorsese masterpiece “After Hours.” The director is Shawn Levy, who committed the two “Night at the Museum” movies, and here shows that he is much more successful when he stays far away from CGI. -Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

A professional pushover might say that the “Date Night” pairing of Steve Carell and Tina Fey is “a match made in comedy heaven,” like the second coming of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. But this shrill caper is more like a blind date between fingernail and chalkboard.  This lemon was squeezed dry by script mechanic Josh Klausner (“Shrek the Third”) and plucked from the reject pile by ham-fisted director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”). -Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ho snap!  That’s gotta be disheartening for a screenwriter when your movie gets mostly good reviews, but even the best one is careful to mention “Despite that the script is a flaming turd hurled at the screen by a retarded clown-monkey…”

Anyway, I’m still on the fence until I hear what Sexman says.

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