Carrell and Fey. It's like getting Magic and Bird on the same team. These two titans of NBC comedy coming together is cause for equal parts celebration and fear. Celebration because, hey, they're both hilarious and getting to see them onscreen together has a lot of promise. Fear because they're being directed by Shawn Levy, who is a part of my Hack Pack (directors with absolutely no style of their own who play everything with no subtlety for the broadest audience). Luckily, not even Levy can mess with the brilliance of Carrell and Fey in Date Night, a movie that is made a lot more fun by its stars
It's a simple enough premise: boring suburban couple looking for a little fun in the big city find themselves caught in a case of mistaken identity with mobsters and have to run for their lives. Movies like these usually live and die for me with their ability to live in the real world. Most of the time, the actors ham and mug their way through these movies, which leaves me with the sense that I'm watching actors, not actual characters. I expected this with Levy directing, and there were times when the chases and bombast threatened to pull me out of the film.
Thank heaven for Carrell and Fey, both of whom I've respected on their respective television shows. Neither relies on gimmicks to be absolutely hilarious. They both know that being true to their characters, and honest, is what makes them funny. Their honesty is what makes the craziness that ensues around them (which includes the "wacky" characters they run into, though Mark Wahlberg is surprisingly good). The two leads also have a natural chemistry that, at times, I forgot I was watching two of the most popular sitcom stars on the planet and believed they were an actual couple. It's a testament to their talent that this fairly average film can become much more than that.