Here's the type of comedy that just doesn't work in 2010. The actors, bless their hearts, try their hardest to make this pseudo-screwball comedy work, but the writing and the directing (specifically the asinine idea to add 20 minutes to the film for home release) completely derail the film. In other words: it's hard to make a screwball comedy in 2010 because directors and studios think screwball today equates to guns, car chases, and poorly directed action scenes involving normal, everyday people. Steve Carell and Tina Fey are Phil and Clair Foster, a married couple looking to have an exciting date night in New York City after hearing about how their friends' (great supporting performances from Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) marriage has died due to lack of excitement. What happens, of course, is a misunderstanding in the city that puts the Foster's smack in the middle of a situation involving crooked cops, a corrupt D.A., and a coveted flash drive that links the cops with the D.A. with a mob boss (Ray Liotta).
It's all a convoluted mess that results in more groan inducing moments than laughs. Part of the problem is that director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum films) has no idea how to direct a comedy (or an action picture for that matter). The actors do their best to show the appropriate emotion as all of the screwy madness swirls around their normalcy, and half the fun of the movie is just looking at the Fosters as they experience these crazy situations. However, the banter between Carell and Fey is mediocre at best (Fey really isn't a movie star, her performance was all wrong for a film), and they are upstaged by the supporting cast that includes the aforementioned Ruffalo, Wiig, and Liotta; as well as James Franco (in a role that steals the film, and actually makes it worth watching), Mila Kunis, and Mark Wahlberg (another great comedic performance). When it's all said and done the film is too long at 108 minutes (the theatrical version was 88 minutes…so you're telling me they felt the need to add 20 minutes to the DVD!) as there are countless scenes that kill the momentum of the film, and I imagine had I seen this in the theater the pacing would have been quicker (adding to the screwball element) and more tolerable; instead, the pacing is atrocious, specifically a scene near the end where the Foster's must pose as strippers. It just killed the film right there for me. If you run across the film on TV late at night it's worth checking out for the scenes with Wahlberg, Franco, and Kunis. Everything else in Date Night is a big time failure.