Review: Date Night

(M) ***

Director: Shawn Levy.

Cast: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Jimmi Simpson, Common.

MISTAKEN identity is always good for a few laughs (or thrills if you're Hitchcock) but it's the pairing of Carell and Fey that really makes Date Night such a good time out on the town.

The stars of The Office and 30 Rock play the Fosters, a stuck-in-a-rut upper-middle class couple whose lives revolves around their kids and who are so set in their ways that even their regular date nights have become repetitive.

That's until they decide to mix things up - inspired by the recent break-up of some close friends - by attempting to get a table at a posh restaurant for their date night and taking the reservation of a no-show couple called the Tripplehorns.

This brings them to the attention of two thugs who are after some stolen info the Tripplehorns have been using to blackmail some big shots, spiraling the Fosters into a world of car chases, shoot-outs and shirtless private detectives.

Date Night wouldn't be much without its perfectly cast leads, and Fey and Carell are at their best when riffing hilariously together in a couple of restaurant scenes scattered through-out the film. But it's the Fosters' relationship that holds this together and both stars are on the money with the emotional core, particularly in a heart-on-the-sleeve scene shared in a parked car that reminds you how well-rounded these two actors are.

The other secret to the success is the well-balanced script that moves at a cracking pace, mixing the heart and the humour nicely, while showing a genuine affection between the couple despite them being set in their ways.

Levy's flairless direction and the formulaic feel are the only things undermining Date Night. It's the kind of comedy you'll dig at the time, but it's not in that upper category of "Great" - you won't be rushing back to watch it again or find yourself quoting the lines to your friends (although Fey's airhead imitation quote "I'm going to go home and fart in a shoebox" is pretty good).

Date Night is the perfect three-star comedy. It's not going to set the world on fire, but you'll wish that the rest of the cookie-cutter crap coming out of Hollywood was at least this consistently funny and enjoyable.

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