America’s funniest man – Life Magazine (they’re not wrong).
Firmly established as an entertaining and hilarious comedy actor, with his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-2004), Steve Carell marked his move to the big screen with a show stealing performance in Bruce Almighty (2003). His countless characterisations of innocent and facetious forty something’s lead to career highs of the marvellously comedic Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) and The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005). Unfortunately he hasn’t escaped the career lows of Get Smart (2008) and Evan Almighty (2007). When he isn’t playing that role in cinemas, he’s also returned to television with the hit US alternative of Gervais’ esteemed sitcom The Office (2005-2010). Even in his films which are poor he always manages to bring laughs and fortunately his oh so similar characters are yet to wear thin. The same can be said for Date Night (2010).
Director Shawn Levy, the man behind the ‘not so funny’ funnies Night at the Museum (2006) and Just Married (2003), and writer Josh Klausner, known for Shrek the Third (2007) and Shrek Forever After (2010), team up to create Carell’s latest in a long line of screwball comedies. Date Night sees an attempt at a romantic evening for the bored Foster’s (Carell and Fey) is shattered when a case of mistaken identity causes the innocent middle aged couple to become entrapped in the thrills, corruption and dangers of underground New York City. What seems an innovative plot is rather tamely directed and trundles along throwing jokes at you; like a nervous, failed comedian.
Date Night presents a new New York City that is apparently bustling with Hollywood actors craving for a bit part in a movie. Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco and Mark Wahlberg each provide top rate performances in there differing roles; most notably Ray Liotta’s Joe Miletto (who is a clear throwback to Henry Hill from Goodfellas 1990).
Date Night unfortunately joins the, growing, list of Carell’s bad films, but again it isn’t him that made it bad. The film and narrative had a lot of potential but was let down by lacklustre directing. Proving that it doesn’t matter how many stars you throw at a film it doesn’t automatically make it better. Date Night gets 4/10.