Posted on 8/01/11 03:26 PM
There's a lot to like about Date Night. I have enjoyed Steve Carrell since I first saw him as Produce Pete on The Daily Show. And Tina Fey plays self-deprecation better than anyone. So what could possibly go wrong by putting them together.
First, let's look at Get Smart. I really enjoyed that film because not only did it retain the spirit of the original show, Steve Carrell made a perfect imperfect hero. He isn't suave or cool or tough, but the villains aren't either, so the plot doesn't really call for that. As a result, the movie works.
Now let's look at The Hangover. It's a very different type of comedy -- much more akin to Beverly Hills Cop than anything else. I felt the action took over the plot a little too much at the expense of the comedy, but it mostly worked because both the comedy and the action had a serious, adult attitude to them.
That's where Date Night never really comes together. The comedy is funny enough and very family friendly. It's light, it's enjoyable. And the characters are normal people who just want to have some semblance of the lives they used to enjoy before everything started seeming a bit flat. But the action is more hard-edged than that. The criminals don't seem like the lovable oafs of Get Smart who would patiently wait around while Maxwell rattled off a "Would you believe..." set. No, these criminals seem like the kind that would leave bodies behind. And our heroes seem like the kind who would end up the featured victims on America's Most Wanted. Yet they succeed in bringing these guys down where trained field agents have failed? It's an uncomfortable mixture that never reaches the realm of believability.
Still, perhaps all those things could be forgiven if they were at least consistent in their inconsistency. But the finale takes the action story into ludicrous sitcom territory. The plot resolution would have been a stretch in the 1980s -- I was astounded that this kind of ending could possibly wind up in a modern-day movie. But there it is.
As I said, there's a lot to like about Date Night. That's why it's such a shame that it ends up being less than the sum of its parts.
Posted on 12/22/10 01:55 PM
The juvenile nature of bathroom humor belies the sheer genius of the craftmanship in this movie. There's Something About Mary is one of the most brilliantly directed, most perfectly edited, most riotously funny movies ever made. A comedy every aspiring film student should be required to study.