With a pair of NBC’s finest talent slapped on the movie poster, it was no wonder that Date Night became quite the success for Fox. The modestly budgeted film ($55 million) was given an incredible return on investment as it went on to make nearly triple that with worldwide box office receipts taken into account. While the film didn’t receive the most positive of reviews, it was still mostly positive and combined with solid word of mouth the film spent quite a few comfortable months bringing in audiences for what may have been one of the simplest and easy to enjoy films of the past few years.
One ordinary couple. One crazy night. The uproarious story of mistaken identity starring two of the world’s biggest comedic talents, Date Night arrives on Blu-ray and DVD August 10 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Filled with non-stop laughs and outrageous situations, Date Night follows Steve Carell (“The Office”) and Tina Fey (“30 Rock”) as a sensible, loving couple with two kids and a house in suburban New Jersey. Their typical date nights include a run-of-the-mill evening with little to no romance, but one night they decide to reignite the spark by going to Manhattan’s hottest new restaurant… without a reservation.What happens next is a wild ride that goes hilariously awry, as they embark on a dangerous series of crazy adventures to save their lives, and their marriage.
I was pretty eager to watch Date Night, if only because it featured Carrell and Fey. Those two are basically the whole reason I watch NBC on Thursday’s and the idea of pairing them up seems like such a no brainer. Unfortunately for me, watching this film seemed like the whole production was a no brainer because there really just wasn’t any life to it. It’s as if everyone treated it as a vacation and just really didn’t bring their A-game, because it honestly wasn’t that funny of a film. I honestly and truly wanted to laugh my head off, but it just didn’t happen. The jokes had an odd tendency toward penis or sex jokes which in their own right I usually laugh at regardless, but here they just felt awkward. There was also the films penchant for getting away with dropping F-bombs (two audible and a third one that the subtitles caught—I think that might be a record for a “romantic comedy” type film)—it all just added up to something that felt like it was trying too hard to be funny when it really should have dialed it back and played up the more subtle style of humor that both of its stars are known for dishing out.
This was also sadly one of those films that delivered all of the funny material in the trailers. The Wahlberg scenes were pretty fantastic, admittedly, as were the James Franco and Mila Kunis characters, however brief their appearances may have been. Some of the stuff just seemed very out-of-character for the characters that Carrell and Fey portrayed as well—I don’t even know these characters all that well but they seem to fit into the same general humdrum mom/dad stereotype. But then we get them into a strange car chase and it…I don’t know. It was definitely cool and I love seeing Audi R8’s everywhere in films now, but it just genuinely felt strange and out of place at times for the title characters to be able to do so much. Sure, there’s the adrenaline rush that helps, but it’s a bit too much to be believable.
Granted I’m sure there’s a level of disbelief you have to set yourself in to fully buy into this film, but every time I accepted the “crazy” moments of the film they amped it up a notch and in the end it just resulted in a sense of distrust with this film, because I just didn’t care about anything that was going on. There are plenty of humorous little moments sprinkled about this film, but not enough that make this movie a real comedy. Which is an incredible shame because the sheer number of talent involved with it should have been enough to make you wet your pants from laughter—instead we get a few touching moments between our leads at the end of the film and little else to help you remember this movie. I guess I should’ve known it was going to be a dud when Ray Liotta showed up…he seems to be a death nell for any movie I watch.
In any case the films still worth a Rental for the odd laugh here and there, but it’s definitely not something you’ll be taking many repeat visits to.
Weeks after reviewing the test single disc DVD release I finally get my hands on the retail Blu-ray copy and…well, things are actually better here. The set itself arrives in a standard two-disc (second disc is a digital copy) Elite Blu-ray case with a cardboard slipcover with a lenticular image (if you’re wondering why the DVD and Blu-ray releases sported different cover artwork, they don’t—both releases sport the same lenticular image). Menus are simple and easy to navigate.
Video is an AVC encoded 1080p effort and as usual it looks great. There isn’t a whole lot on this disc to fight for space so the film features a healthy 23mbps transfer and it looks spectacular—well, as spectacular as a film that largely takes place at night can anyway. It’s a pretty nice looking little transfer and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is decidedly more impressive than the DVD release I looked at previously although the same elements jumped out at me (the Audi R8’s engine, gun fire, etc) as being the most prominent of the mix.
While browsing the extras menu on the original DVD disc I reviewed I paused at the fairly decent listing. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself, “there are bloopers! And other entertaining sounding extras!” I eventually found this to be a terribly lacking list, but thankfully the Blu-ray release kicks things up a notch with a slightly lengthier list:
• Gag reel
• Extended Car Chase
• Directing Off Camera
• Date Night PSAs (three versions)
• Directing 301 with Shawn Levy
• Audio Commentary with Shawn Levy
• Deleted Scenes
• Extended Scenes
• Disaster Dates with the Cast
• Steve and Tina Camera Tests
• Live Lookup
• Digital Copy
The longest extras were really the ones talking about the making of, which would’ve been worthwhile if I cared at all about how this film was made. The bloopers and alternative takes were shockingly quite dull—I’ve seen what Carrell is capable of with The Office bloopers and there just wasn’t anything here that was near that caliber. Once again I have to wonder if it was just a big vacation for everyone involved—but at least these Blu-ray extras include a bigger picture of how it as all executed…even if my second viewing of the film was even less entertaining than the first.
Overall a strict Rental disc.
Date Night is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.