Blu-Ray Review: Spend ‘Date Night’ With Tina Fey, Steve Carell

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CHICAGO – “Date Night” is one of the few word-of-mouth hits of 2010; a film that started off reasonably well at the box office but hung around the top ten for months after its release, turning it into an undeniable comedy success. The comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey opened in second place but dropped so slowly that it almost made $100 million (a huge amount for a movie like this one and plus another $50 million internationally). The movie’s loyal fans will love the excellent Blu-ray release from 20th Century Fox. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

Shawn Levy’s breakneck comedy doesn’t quite live up to the skills of the stars of “The Office” and “30 Rock” but it comes significantly closer than disappointments like “Evan Almighty” or “Baby Mama.” With pitch-perfect timing and very believable couple chemistry, Carell and Fey are great here and have delivered a very crowd-pleasing comedy that will live up to its title for thousands.

Date Night was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Date Night was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

Working from a script by Josh Klausner but also clearly improvising most of the best material, Carell and Fey star as Phil and Claire Foster, a typical New Jersey couple with tough-but-boring jobs as an accountant and teacher, respectively, and two normal kids. Like a lot of couples, Phil and Claire have become so busy with family life that they barely have time for one another. They understandably worry that they are not dissimilar from a recently-split couple they know (Mark Ruffalo & Kristen Wiig) in that they have become “excellent roomates.” In an attempt to spice up their marriage a bit, Claire gets dressed up for date night and Phil offers to take her to the fanciest restaurant in the city – the overpriced and snooty Claw.

Date Night was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Date Night was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

The Fosters get dismissed to the bar when the snobby host hears they have no reservation and they decide to steal one as the hostess calls the name of a couple that clearly didn’t show up. Pretending to be someone else in a city as dangerous as New York can lead to problems and the Fosters get mistaken for a couple who happen to be involved in some pretty shady business involving a pair of corrupt cops (Jimmi Simpson & Common), a sleazy D.A.(William Fichtner), and a mob boss (Ray Liotta).

When they realize the deadliness of their situation, Phil and Claire turn to good cop (Taraji P. Henson) and a surveillance expert (Mark Wahlberg) to help them get through chaotic night into which they’ve been thrown and track down the real couple (James Franco & Mila Kunis) for whom they have been mistaken. It’s a generic set-up that plays off a suburbanite-in-the-big-city dynamic that we’ve seen before but it’s what Carell and Fey do within that structure that elevates “Date Night” above the cliche. They’re simply great; both believable as a couple and hilarious on their own. And they’re not alone. Franco and Kunis only have one scene but they’re absolutely hysterical and Fichtner, Common, and Wahlberg all deliver. The entire ensemble is well cast.

Having said that, “Date Night” can sometimes be a bit frustrating. I wish it had an edgier director than Levy and could have really been turned into a great city movie like “After Hours” or a truly dangerous one like “Something Wild,” but it’s nowhere near as dark as either. “Date Night” is a good comedy that could have been a fantastic one.

However, the Blu-ray IS fantastic. The video transfer is perfectly mastered and the special features are copious, fun, and informative. With hours of bonus material, an extended version of the film (that’s just barely so), a digital copy, and some very funny alternate/deleted scenes, “Date Night” on Blu-ray is one of the best comedy home releases of the year.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary by Director Shawn Levy
o Deleted, Alternate, and Extended Scenes
o “Directing 301”
o “Disaster Dates”
o “Directing Off-Camera”
o Steve Carell and Tina Fey Camera Tests
o Gag Reel
o Public Service Announcements
o BD-Live: “Live Lookup”

“Date Night” stars Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, and Mila Kunis. It was written by Josh Klausner and directed by Shawn Levy. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 10th, 2010. It is rated PG-13 (or unrated) and runs 88 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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