Why hello, Tina Fey of TV's 30 Rock! It's great to see you! You are likable and charming and hilarious! And who's that with you? Why, it's Steve Carell, of TV's The Office! You, sir, are also likable and charming and hilarious! You aren't as pretty as Tina Fey, but then no one is. And who is this? Oh. It's... Shawn Levy. The director of Cheaper by the Dozen. And the Pink Panther remake. And Night at the Museum. And the second Night at the Museum.
[SOUND OF CRICKETS CHIRPING]
Christ, I was going to write the whole review that way, like I was actually talking to Steve Carell and Tina Fey (IF ONLY), but you get the point. Date Night is a vehicle for Carell and Fey to do their usual likable, charming, and hilarious shtick. And it's also a generic Shawn Levy flick aimed directly at the wallets of married couples. It also bears some remarkable similarities to Adventures in Babysitting.
Fey and Carell play the Fosters, who we're repeatedly told are "just a boring couple from New Jersey"—Phil is a tax lawyer and Claire is a real-estate agent. And every week, a bratty neighborhood girl (why hello, Leighton Meester of TV's Gossip Girl!) babysits their kids so they can have boring date nights. Except for tonight, that is! 'Cause tonight, due to some stupid plot developments, Phil and Claire get mixed up with corrupt cops, car chases, mobsters (Ray Liotta, what a surprise!), and cameos from Marky Marks and James Francos. Carell and Fey spend Date Night running around New York acting all flustered and funny; watching the movie is a lot like watching NBC on a Thursday night, except there's no Alec Baldwin and now it costs money.
It'd be easy to rip on the blandly absurd, unmemorable Date Night—but then again, it clips along briskly enough, getting in a decent number of laughs in 90 minutes. Sure, it'd be great if this felt more like a Tina Fey or Steve Carell joint and less like something made by Shawn Levy, but so it goes. And honestly, if I were half of a married couple who just wanted to get out of the subdivision and away from the kids for a few hours? I'd be perfectly content to use Date Night as an excuse to do so, which is pretty much exactly the point.