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Image: Date Night
Fox
Steve Carell and Tina Fey are two of the funniest people ever on television, yet their big-screen "Date Night" is a dreary, uninspired waste of their talents
By
updated 4/11/2010 1:07:28 PM ET 2010-04-11T17:07:28
REVIEW

Steve Carell and Tina Fey's night out is not so much a bad date as a sad date.

These are two of the funniest people ever on television, yet their big-screen "Date Night" is a dreary, uninspired waste of their talents — and those of the top-name cast inexplicably appearing in small throwaway roles.

The movie manages the barest glimmers of the droll humor of Carell's "The Office" and the snappy wit of Fey's "30 Rock," and those few moments underscore how barren "Date Night" is the rest of the time.

Carell and Fey have an easy, affectionate rapport as run-down parents looking to renew some romantic sparks with a night out in Manhattan to break their boring routine.

The actors try hard to make it work, but the lowbrow sensibilities of director Shawn Levy (the "Night at the Museum" movies, "Cheaper by the Dozen") leave them tottering through painful verbal exchanges, lame stunts and other dreadfully unfunny hijinks (their pole dance at a strip club is just embarrassing, and like so many of the movie's gags, it drags on a long time).

The sketchy premise in screenwriter Josh Klausner's script casts Carell and Fey as Phil and Claire Foster, tired, ordinary but reasonably content with their cozy New Jersey life with their two kids. Once a week, Phil and Claire have a "date night" — dinner and the same old table talk at the same old local restaurant.

Video: 'Date Night' After two of their friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) announce they're splitting up, the Fosters decide they need a marital booster and head to the city. Swiping a no-show couple's dinner reservation at a trendy Manhattan restaurant, the Fosters are mistaken for blackmailers who stole a flash-drive with incriminating information about some very dangerous criminal types.

Going through the motions
Date night turns into a night on the run for Phil and Claire, who cross paths with a mobster (Ray Liotta), a security expert (Mark Wahlberg), a devoted cop (Taraji P. Henson), a drug dealer and his stripper girlfriend (James Franco and Mila Kunis) and two relentless thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson).

The filmmakers give these extra hands nothing remotely interesting or amusing to do (ongoing gags about Wahlberg's shirtlessness are so repetitive they become exasperating).

Ruffalo's character says his marriage has become so humdrum that he and his soon-to-be-ex are nothing more than "excellent roommates." That kind of sums up the dynamic between Fey and Carell, a couple of troupers who do try to deliver their drowsy lines as if they were saying funny stuff.

But like Phil and Claire, they are going through the motions, pretending they're in a good comedy in hopes of keeping it from falling apart.

It falls apart, anyway. Clearly, things have gone wrong when the outtakes pasted over the end credits cannot even provoke a chuckle.

Skip this "Date Night." Put the money toward your own night out at a fancy restaurant. Call ahead for a reservation first.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Tina Fey

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  1. Staying classy

    From her days with Chicago’s "Second City" to stardom with "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," the writer, actor, comedian and producer just keeps making people laugh.

    Tina Fey and husband Jeff Richmond attend the "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" premiere in New York on Dec. 15, 2013. (Cindy Ord / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Glowing at galas

    Tina Fey arrives at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in September 2013. On Jan. 12, 2014, Fey will host the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards with comedian and actress Amy Poehler. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A grand finale

    Tina Fey appears as Liz Lemon in the series finale of “30 Rock,” which aired on Jan. 31, 2013. Over the course of seven seasons, “30 Rock” was nominated for more than 100 Emmy awards. (Nbc / Ali Goldstein/NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A win for Liz Lemon

    Tina Fey poses in the press room at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 27, 2013. Fey won for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her role in “30 Rock.” (Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Funny friends

    Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globe Awards together for the first time on Jan. 13, 2013. Their hilarious performance and easy rapport got them invited back for another hosting gig in 2014. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Queen of comedy

    Tina Fey accepts an award onstage from actor Will Arnett at The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on April 28, 2012. (Theo Wargo / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Another glam night

    Fey arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2012. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. It's not Saturday night

    Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin perfom in a live episode of "30 Rock" in 2012. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Liz and Jenna

    Fey (Liz Lemon) and "30 Rock" costar Jane Krakowski (Jenna Maroney) arrive at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Jan. 29, 2012. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Her mini me

    Fey and daughter Alice attend the HBO Luxury Lounge in honor of the 69th annual Golden Globes at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverlin Hills, Calif., on Jan. 14, 2012. (Chelsea Lauren / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Weekend anchors

    Fey and actress Amy Poehler arrive at the 13th Annual Warner Bros. and InStyle Golden Globe After Party held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Jan. 15, 2012. (Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Expecting No. 2

    Fey unveiled her baby bump during a visit to "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on April 11, 2011. Her second daughter, Penelope, was born on Aug. 10, 2011. (Donna Ward / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Author

    Fey signs copies of her book, "Bossypants," at Barnes & Noble Union Square in New York on April 8, 2011. (Jim Spellman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Happy anniversary!

    Cast members from the NBC's "30 Rock" television show, including front row from left, Jack McBrayer, Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan celebrate the 100th episode taping at Silver Cup Studios in New York on March 10, 2011. (Evan Agostini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rocking '30 Rock'

    Fey stars as comedy writer Liz Lemon in "30 Rock," based on her experiences writing for "Saturday Night Live." While ratings are low, the show is a critical favorite, and received Emmy Awards for outstanding comedy series in 2007, 2008, and 2009. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Out on the town

    Fey teams with another comic powerhouse, Steve Carell, in 'Date Night." They play a suburban couple whose regular night out turns into an adventure beyond their wildest dreams. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Mommy's little girl

    Fey walks with her daughter, Alice Richmond, to toy store FAO Schwarz on March 9, 2010 in New York. Fey returned to work just six weeks after Alice was born. Fey's husband, Jeff Richmond, is a composer on "30 Rock." (Ray Tamarra / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Rain, rain, go away

    Fey arrives at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards on a rainy January day in 2010. She and "30 Rock" were both nominated for awards, but neither won. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Cover girl

    Fey graced the March 2010 cover of Vogue Magazine. While working on "Saturday Night Live," Fey says she lost 30 pounds after seeing herself in a role as an extra, and notes that suddenly there was a lot more interest in putting her on the air. She has been named to People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list in 2003, and to its 100 Most Beautiful People list in 2007, 2008, and 2009. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Golden gal

    Fey presented an award at the 2010 Academy Awards, held on March 7, 2010, in Los Angeles. Her sparkly black gown is by Michael Kors. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Truth will out

    Fey starred along with Rob Lowe, Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner in 2009's "The Invention of Lying," which takes place in an alternate reality where even the concept of a lie does not exist. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Writing right

    Fey accepts the Emmy award for outstanding writing for a comedy series for "30 Rock" at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 21, 2008. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. 'I can see Russia from my house!'

    Fey had already left "Saturday Night Live," but she returned during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, playing vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, with Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton. Fey's Palin impression earned her headlines everywhere, and some people even confused some of her joke lines with Palin's real comments. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Oh, baby!

    In 2009's "Baby Mama," Fey and Poehler team up for a comedy about Poehler's character serving as a surrogate mother for Fey. The movie received mixed reviews. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Comedy inside a comedy

    Joining Fey in "30 Rock" are co-stars Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan and Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy. The show has especially helped revitalize Baldwin's career, as his performance as the blustering network boss Donaghy has been widely praised. (Mitch Haaseth / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. You like us! You really like us!

    The cast of "30 Rock" poses in the pressroom with their Emmy for outstanding comedy series on Sept. 16, 2007 in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Giving back

    Fey speaks during the 2005 Do Something BRICK Awards April 19, 2005 in New York. The BRICK Awards honor leaders age 25 and under who have created innovative solutions to problems in their local communities in the areas of community building, health, and the environment. (Scott Gries / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Don't be 'Mean'

    Fey wrote and co-starred in the 2004 comedy "Mean Girls," based in part on the book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" and in part on Fey's own Pennsylvania high-school days. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. The 'Girls'

    Fey and "Mean Girls" star Lindsay Lohan attend a private screening of the film on April 23, 2004 at Loews Lincoln Square Theater, in New York. Entertainment Weekly listed the film on its end-of-the-decade best-of list. (Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Live, from New York

    Fey and Jimmy Fallon are seen co-anchoring "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live" in 2004. Fey joined "SNL" in 1997 and was promoted to head writer in 1999. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Make 'em laugh

    Fey, Ben Affleck, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch pose backstage at the 5th Annual Directors Guild Of America Honors at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel September 29, 2004 in New York. (Peter Kramer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Classy couple

    Fey and composer Jeff Richmond dated for seven years before marrying in 2001. (James Devaney / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Before fame

    After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1992, Fey moved to Chicago to take classes at the improvisational comedy group The Second City. She's seen here in 1997 during her days as a featured player with the organization. That same year, she joined "SNL," and her career began to take off. (AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
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