Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Ray Liotta, Mark Wahlberg
It's hard to describe Shawn Levy without using the word generic. Cheaper By The Dozen. Cheaper By the Dozen 2. The Pink Panther. The Pink Panther 2. Generic. And so Hollywood's go-to guy for generic, genial entertainment has produced a standard mistaken identity action comedy. Generic? Yes. But the couple leading the way are anything but. In fact, they're rather funny.
Phil (Carrell) and Claire (Fey) Foster are a bored married couple. They're happy together, but things are getting a little stale. In search of a more exciting weekly date night, Phil breaks routine and takes Claire to Claw - a hyper-trendy Manhattan restaurant where respect is hard to come by, tables more so. Stealing a reservation for The Tripplehorns, The Fosters soon find themselves chased around town by bent cops. Bent cops with guns.
Striving to prove their true identity, The Fosters do everything from breaking and entering to re-arranging their babysitter. It's not long before they track down their opposite numbers (Mila Kunis and James Franco in Pineapple Express mode), a drugged up pair whose improvised bickering makes for multiple laughs.
But that's just the start of the silliness: as the evening draws on, everything gets more ridiculous. Cue Mark Wahlberg, whose repeated cameos as a shirtless security expert are brilliantly staged, and a slightly unnecessary car chase. And through it all, The Fosters play it straight, always the bemused couple out of their depth; it's that simple understated element that just about balances out the dumb plot.
It wouldn't work in another pair's hands - the balance of Carrell and Fey is great. Not only do they bring in some strong bursts of humour, but they're actually believable as a worn out husband and wife. And yet, as likeable and normal as they seem, they still pull off a bizarre pole dancing sequence towards the end. It's completely ripped out of True Lies and this is hardly a rom-com classic, but Carrell and Fey's performance lift Date Night above the level of mediocrity. It's generic. But it's still entertaining.
The average Shawn Levy strikes again, but Steve and Tina make this a Date Night worth going on.