I'm a fan of comedies; check that, I'm a fan of GOOD comedies. Under my list of good comedies, at least good recent comedies, I would list almost anything Apatow, especially Knocked Up and 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad, Zombieland, but I don't want to forget those great comedies that paved the way and so , for eclecticism's (yeah, I'm pretty sure I just made up a word), for eclecticism's sake, I'm including The Philadelphia Story. I would now like to add Date Night to that list as well.
It's hard to say what exactly makes something funny, or even better, hysterical. Is it the writing? Is it the actors? Is it chemistry? Is it plot? Date Night doesn't really answer one of those questions. Luckily, it answers all of them.
The plot is right there in the title. It's Date Night for suburban, married couple Phil and Claire Foster. As if the terms "married" and "suburban" weren't enough to bring to mind the term "bored" or the phrase "stuck in a rut," Phil is an accountant and Claire is a real estate agent. They also have 2 children in a home with a picket fence. They belong to a book club for crying out loud. In essence, they're the everyperson who gets up on Saturday morning to mow the lawn and clean the car. That's part of the appeal of Phil and Claire, you can look out your window and see them right there, picking up their pets' poo. It's also what makes the following events even more enjoyable.
Date Night is your typical fish-out-of-water, in-over-their-head, race-against-the-clock plot, yet it somehow manages to feel fresh.
Most of the credit undoubtedly goes to Tina Fey and Steve Carell, a comedic pairing that is so fantastic, it's difficult to believe it's the first time it's happened. There's an ease and a sweetness about both of them that makes the chemistry between them both believable and root-worthy. You want these two to get a happy ending, because gosh darn it, they deserve it! A major reason I thought of the Philadelphia Story as a comparison point is because the comedy here is both verbally sharp and slapstick enough to laugh at, but not so overused as to get old. It feels like the pairing between Hepburn and Grant.
Some of the credit also has to go to director Shawn Levy, who wastes absolutely no scenes here. At 88 minutes, the running time seems short in comparison to most of the almost-epics that have been seen lately, but every moment is packed with just enough punch. The pacing is perfect and the casting is genius, down to Mark Wahlberg, James Franco and Mila Kunis, who, although their screen time is short, I guarantee, it's worthy of the admission price alone.
Finally, as in any good comedy, some of the credit also has to go to the writer. While there are enough visual gags to keep things interesting it's the witty banter and extremely quotable script that keep things moving here. I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud for so long, it might have been Zombieland; but again, keep an eye and ear out for the exchanges between Franco (portraying a character named Taste) and Carell. It's pretty close to golden.
So while it may not seem like the kind of movie that should come out this early in the year, let's face facts, it's better-than-April, I'll happily take it as a token of good will from the film industry.
Since I'm trying not to do the half point thing anymore, I'm going to jump feet first and give Date Night:
5 out of 5. I know it's bold for it being so early in the year, but any movie that I know I immediately want to see again is worthy indeed.