(Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Leighton Meester, et al / PG-13 / 98 mins / Universal)
Overview: This action comedy tells the tale of mild-mannered married couple Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey) who fear their relationship may be falling into a stale rut. During their weekly date night, they impetuously steal a dinner reservation, which leads to a case of mistaken identity. Turns out the reservation was for a pair of thieves, and now a number of unsavory characters want Phil and Claire killed. If they can survive a wacky life-threatening night, they may just rediscover the passion missing from their marriage.
Verdict: Steve Carell and Tina Fey bring their estimable comic chops to "Date Night," which sadly illustrates the current disparity between television and big-screen comedy. These talented performers star in two of the wittiest, most sophisticated sitcoms on the air, but for this movie pairing they're stuck with an endlessly silly plot line and overblown physical mayhem that is instantly forgettable. The fact that they make it so funny nonetheless is a testament to their abilities.
Josh Klausner's screenplay is thoroughly derivative in terms of its mistaken-identity plot, but it features more than a few one-liners that, as delivered by the film's stars, seem hilariously spontaneous. (Indeed, the end credit outtakes indicate that there was more than a little improvisation by the two stars). There's also a decent amount of funny running gags, including various characters' horrified reactions to the couple's having stolen a restaurant reservation and their seeking help from a perpetually shirtless hunky security expert, played with amusing self-mockery by Mark Wahlberg.