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Claire and Phil Foster are a suburban couple who feel that their lives, including their weekly date night, have become humdrum and routine. In an attempt to rekindle their spark, they plan a romantic evening at a hip Manhattan bistro. But when they arrive at the glamorous venue, they get a lot more excitement than they bargained for when a case of mistaken identity turns their intimate evening into a hair-raising walk on the wild side.
For more about Date Night and the Date Night Blu-ray release, see Date Night Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 12, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, J.B. Smoove, William Fichtner
Director: Shawn Levy
» See full cast & crew
Date Night Blu-ray Review
Date Night’s Blu-ray disc is to comedy what the bite guard is to sex; once it’s in, you know you’re not getting any.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 12, 2010
Okay, perhaps that's a bit harsh. Date Night has its moments of ha ha, but for a movie starring Steve Carrell and Tiny Fey—two of the funniest people on American television—this rom-com is curiously stale. I mean, imagine Michael Scott from The Office tying the knot with 30 Rock's Liz Lemon—it would be marital hell and, consequently, comic heaven. Date Night, though, is more like purgatory. You do a lot of waiting—for the funny bits, for Mark Wahlberg to show up again, and ultimately, for the thing to end. It certainly doesn't help that the title of the film is basically a ploy to get couples in theater seats. "Hey, honey, how 'bout, for a laugh, we go see Date Night—on our date night!" How very meta.
Carrel and Fey are Phil and Claire Foster, a married couple from New Jersey with boring jobs and a pair of totally bonkers kids. Their life has become a predictable routine: they rush to get out the door in the mornings, they come home exhausted, they go to a book club hosted by a couple on the verge of divorce (Kristin Wiig and Mark Ruffalo in brief roles), and once a week they go on a "date night," always to the same steak place. When they get home, they're too tired to be intimate and, well, you know, she's wearing sweats and already has her bite guard in. Sexy. The fire hasn't completely gone out between them—there's still a coal burning dimly in the sexual darkness—but it's clear they need to stoke the embers if they want their marriage to survive. Hence, they get all gussied up for a big night in New York City. Only, Phil fails to book a reservation at Claw, the trendy upscale seafood joint they want to try. In an uncharacteristically bold move, they claim to be another couple—the Tripplehorns—and get ushered to one of the best tables in the house. Now, enter the North by Northwest-style mistaken identity plot twist. A pair of thugs (Jimmi Simpson and Common) take the Fosters outside at gunpoint and the film lurches suddenly into mad-cap, screwball mode, with our two leads fleeing through the Big Apple, trying to outrun the baddies while simultaneously solving the mystery of why the Tripplehorns are in such hot water. And, you know, learning about each other and stuff.
The particulars of the plot are unimportant, but they involve a mob boss (Ray Liotta, naturally), James Franco and Mila Kunis as a pair of kinky, scene stealing criminals, and a missing flash drive with incriminating photos of Frank Crenshaw (William Fichtner), a district attorney who publicly pledges to clean up the streets but privately has a thing for sex clubs and prozzies. For help, Phil and Claire turn to Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg), a special ops hottie who may or may not have had a thing for Claire and who appears shirtless in all of his scenes, muscles bulging. Here's where the women in the audience are supposed to swoon, while their dates go, okay, yeah, we know he's hot, can we get an action scene please? And director Shawn Levy obliges, tossing in absurd car chases, bad-aim shootouts, and frantic getaways, all executed capably but uninterestingly. Here's the problem; Date Night wants to be a romantic action comedy— may I suggest rom-act-com?—but what it ends up with is watered down versions of all three elements. Claire and Phil's romantic trajectory peaks with a chaste kiss and a newfound appreciation of one another. The action scenes feel obligatory, filler to pad the runtime and get us to the next character-centric beat. And the comedy? Lowbrow and juvenile. One frequently repeated joke is that Phil is so square and suburban that the dirtiest words he can come up with are penis, vagina, and whore. Which he says. A lot.
The material—written by Josh Klausner, and based on an idea by Shawn Levy—seems beneath the two leads, whose quickfire wit and improv skills are wasted on dud jokes that drag on for far too long. There's one scene—where the couple is forced to dance stiltedly around a stripper pole— that's nearly interminable. Some comedies thrive on this kind of protracted awkwardness—like The Office—but in Date Night the laughs rarely come. It's a shame, because Carrell and Fey seem like such a perfect comedic screen couple, and it says something that the movie's gag reel—composed largely of alternate improvised takes—is funnier by far than the film itself. It's easy to imagine that, in the hands of someone like Judd Apatow, someone who would give the stars freer reign, Date Night could have been much funnier. The premise is hardly original, but it is good to see a comedy aimed squarely at married folk, rather than the usual bachelor debauchery or teen gross-outs. Date Night seems specifically engineered to get long-suffering, work-harried, child-exhausted couples to look at each other and go, "that's so true. That's so us." The intended audience definitely deserves a date night, but they might be disappointed with this one.
(Taste in comedy runs the gamut, though— one man's Ferrelly Brothers flick is another's Annie Hall—so don't necessarily take my word for it. If you're at all interested in the Carrell/Fey pairing, a try before you buy rental is probably in order.)
Note: This disc includes both the original, 88-minute theatrical cut of the film and the 101-minute extended cut.
Date Night Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot with the Panavision Genesis HD camera, Date Night has been given a digital-to-digital 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that looks good overall but falters under a few inconsistencies. Though the Genesis Camera—like the RED camera—is capable of producing a very film-like image, there are some digital anomalies here that keep Date Night from looking truly fantastic. For one, you'll frequently notice noise, especially during darker scenes. And since the movie takes place primarily at night, this means you'll be seeing a lot of noise. There have also been some clear attempts to smooth away the excess noisiness in select scenes with DNR techniques, and this results in a loss of fine texture. This isn't a pervasive problem, though—like in Predator—and it's not overly obvious or distracting. Still, you will spot fluctuations in clarity, with the brighter scenes looking sharp and nearly noiseless, and the darker shots taking on a noticeably softer quality. Black levels vary as well— sometimes seeming hazy and often crushing shadow detail—but never appearing as deep, inky, and balanced as you'd hope. Color reproduction is better, with natural skin tones, rich neutrals, and occasional bursts of vividness, like police lights or the neon glow inside the nightclub.
Date Night Blu-ray, Audio Quality
By now we all know the rom-com audio drill: a front-centric, dialogue-driven mix that offers little in the way of interesting sound design, with the odd exception of the occasional action sequence. And that's exactly what we get with Date Night's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix, which sounds full and clear and does exactly what it needs to do, but never goes above and beyond the call of rom-com duty. The rear channels are only sparsely used throughout the film, mostly for quiet city ambience—distant traffic sounds, subway noise, fluttering birds—but occasionally picking up for the action sequences, with loud bullets, shattering glass, and the screech of crashing cars. When the track does finally roar to life it sounds great, with plenty of potency in the effects. Other scenes, though— like the one in the nightclub—seem like they should be accompanied by more immersive audio, but remain strangely quiet. Christophe Beck's score is pretty typical for this kind of movie, but it sounds good, with a strong sense of presence. Dialogue is easily discernable throughout and English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are available in easy-to-read white lettering.
Date Night Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Audio Commentary with Director Shawn Levy
If you've ever listened to a Shawn Levy commentary track—like the one on Night at the Museum 2—you'll know that he's wildly enthusiastic…about himself and his work. Levy offers up tons of "making of" style info here, but the egoism is grating after awhile. Also note that the commentary is only available for the theatrical cut of the film.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 5:47)
Five short scenes in standard definition—somewhat of a rarity now for a Fox new release.
ALT City (SD, 1:48)
Alternate takes for a handful of jokes.
Extended Scenes (SD, 10:25)
Four slightly longer scenes.
Directing 301 (SD, 21:48)
Spend a day on set with director Shawn Levy and see everything that goes on behind the scenes, from shot lists and dolly moves to craft services and rehearsal. Along the way we meet the cinematographer, editor, first AD, script assistant, and many more.
Disaster Dates (SD, 4:43)
The actors in the film—almost all of the actors—iscuss the worst dates they've ever had.
Directing Off Camera (SD, 3:46)
Shawn Levy shows off his directing technique of shouting suggestions at the actors.
Steve and Tina Camera Tests (SD, 3:10)
Wardrobe and lighting tests with Steve and Tina.
Gag Reel (SD, 5:49)
Your usual assortment of flubs and improvised bits. Pretty funny, though.
PSAs (SD, 2:02)
Three public service announcements with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, who try to convince us to participate in Date Night.
Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:25)
Sneak Peaks (1080p, 7:50)
Glimpses at Predators, Our Family Wedding, Best of FX, and Knight & Day.
Digital Copy "How-To" (1080p, 3:35)
Date Night Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Date Night, ironically, isn't really worth the $20 you'd spend to take your significant other out on a date night of your own to see it in the theater. Steve Carrell and Tiny Fey are often hilarious when pursuing their own comic endeavors, but here, under the heavy-handed, joke-flattening direction of Shawn Levy—the guy responsible for Cheaper by the Dozen and The Pink Panther remake—they seem oddly constrained and awkwardly unfunny. Blu-ray specs are about average for this kind of outing, and the most I can recommend for Date Night is a rental for a cheap night in.
Date Night: Other Editions
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Date Night Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, August 9-15: Date Night Is Nº 1 - August 19, 2010
During the week ended August 15, with two comedies as day-and-date releases, Date Night emerged victorious as the top-selling title on Blu-ray, according to data from Nielsen VideoScan First Alert, while Death at a Funeral was fourth and sold only a third of the ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - August 10-16 - August 10, 2010
There are no guarantees in Hollywood, but casting two of the hottest comics on TV as leads in your next comedy definitely increases the odds of success. Steve Carell – star of the Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning television show The Office - and Tina Fey – star ...
• Date Night Blu-ray Announced - June 10, 2010
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced Date Night for release on August 10. The Blu-ray edition of this action comedy, starring Steve Carell and Tinay Fey, will feature an all-new extended version of the film with "never-before-seen hilarious footage." ...
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