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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Shawn Levy
Cast:
Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Bill Burr
Writing Credits:
Josh Klausner

Tagline:
One ordinary couple. One little white lie.

Synopsis:
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. Directed by Shawn Levy, the film co-stars Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, and Kristen Wiig.

Box Office:
Budget
$55 million.
Opening Weekend
$25.207 million on 3374 screens.
Domestic Gross
$98.608 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 88 min. (Theatrical Version)
101 min. (Extended Version)
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/10/2010

Bonus:
• Both Unrated and Theatrical Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Shawn Levy
• Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
• “Directing 301” Featurette
• “Disaster Dates” Featurette
• “Directing Off Camera” Featurette
• “Steve and Tina Camera Tests”
• Gag Reel
• Trailer and PSAs
• Digital Copy
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Date Night [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 18, 2010)

For an action comedy with a twist, we head to 2010’s Date Night. After years of marriage and two demanding kids, Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are in a rut. Between work and kids, their relationship lacks a spark; they still love each other but they’re mired in the dullness of everyday life.

To alleviate this, they plan a “date night” that will take them into Manhattan for dinner at a fancy hotspot. Unable to get a table, Claire figures they’ll head back to their usual suburban chain, but Phil refuses to give up on their big evening in the big city. When another couple fails to claim their reservation, Phil steps up and takes it instead by pretending to be that couple.

Bad move. During dinner, two thugs (Common and Jimmi Simpson) approach them and demand the return of a flash drive. It appears the “Tripplehorns” stole a flash drive from a mob boss and demanded a ransom. His agents try to retrieve it, which ensnares Phil and Claire in a long night of danger and shenanigans.

Director Shawn Levy made his name with family-oriented fare like Cheaper By the Dozen and Night at the Museum. Date Night takes him into more adult material – sort of. Night took on grown-up themes, as it occasionally delves into the idea of middle-aged couples and their problems.

And it does just fine with those areas as subtext, but no one should mistake this as a serious discussion of marital ennui. Instead, that framework just acts to set up the Fosters and their fish out of water adventure – which is absolutely fine with me, for it creates a fun twist on this kind of “one wild night” story.

As a director, Levy tends somewhat toward lowest common denominator territory, but his flicks get a boost due to excellent casts. Granted, that only goes so far. Even with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, Cheaper By the Dozen was pretty awful, and Night at the Museum sequel came across as surprisingly limp and lifeless.

Date Night proves to be his best work since the first Night at the Museum. Indeed, while not significantly stronger than that hit, I think I would deem it to be superior to Museum and Levy’s most enjoyable film. Perhaps Levy felt freed by the “PG-13” rating; maybe the absence of “family friendly” restrictions allowed him to take more chances.

Or maybe he just got a cast that really clicked. The pairing of Carell and Fey hearkens back to the Martin/Hunt duo of Cheaper, but the former manage to do a lot more to elevate the material. I suspect that’s because the Fosters are almost the total focus of Date Night, while Martin and Hunt needed to share their screentime with 729 adorable moppets. Perhaps if Martin and Hunt made a flick in which they were allowed to dominate, they might create something good, but Cheaper limited their ability to do anything memorable.

With Date Night, Levy seems to have learned his lesson, as he gives Carell and Fey pretty free rein. That’s a smart move. They click with each other very well, and they consistently enliven the proceedings. At its heart, there's nothing particularly special about Date Night; like I mentioned, it gives us a bit of a twist on its genre, but not a remarkable one.

Which is why its entertainment value appears to come mostly from its cast. As mentioned, Fey and Carell excel, and the supporting performers add a lot as well. In particular, Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, James Franco and William Fichtner do nice things with their small parts. The film sprinkles enough of those across its running time to abet the two leads.

Though Carell and Fey remain the key to the flick’s success. Nothing extraordinary ever develops here, but the charm of the lead performers proves to be more than enough to keep us entertained.

Footnote: stick around through the end credits for a lot of outtakes and some other fun material.


The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Date Night appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Shot on digital video, the film came with erratic visuals.

A lot of my concerns connected to low-light elements, of which this nighttime flick offered many. These tended to look rather dense and impenetrable; that wasn’t a universal issue, but it could be a distraction. Blacks appeared pretty dark and tight, at least, and colors were fine. The film went with a palette that favored the neon Manhattan environs, and the disc delivered them accurately.

For the most part, sharpness was strong. Some wide shots seemed a little soft, but the flick usually offered positive clarity and accuracy. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. Source defects also failed to appear. Due to the occasional softness and the issues related to shadows, this ended up as a satisfactory but not impressive presentation.

With its smattering of action scenes, Date Night opened up more than expected for a typical comedy. The biggest highlight was the crazy car chase that occurred toward the end of the flick’s second act; this created much movement around the room and gave us a smooth, engrossing setting.

Not as much happened the rest of the time, but the track still offered nice material. The film provided a solid sense of the city settings, and music delivered positive stereo imaging. The surrounds fleshed matters out in a convincing manner and helped develop a good environment.

At all times, audio quality seemed fine. Music appeared vivid and lively, with nice range. Effects were also dynamic and full; those elements came across as accurate and powerful when appropriate. Speech was always concise and natural as well. The track proved to be more than satisfying.

As we head to the set’s extras, the disc includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of Date Night. The former runs one hour, 27 minutes and 48 seconds, while the latter goes for one hour, 41 minutes, 36 seconds. What do you find in that added 13 minutes, 48 seconds? A lot of extended scenes, mostly. Quite a few short additions accompany sequences already in the final cut.

Some of these contribute story material. One bit sets up the Crenshaw character in advance, and we also specifically see what delayed Phil and Claire’s drive into Manhattan. Two scenes give us a joke about big city scams; one sets it up and the other pays it off. Finally, a subway sequence allows Phil to better detail the basic plot to Claire – and the potentially confused audience.

Because I like the film, I think the extensions/additions are fun to see. I’m not sure many – or even any – should’ve been in the final flick, and they probably slow the movie down a bit too much. The extended cut gives us an interesting take on the film, but I think the theatrical version is probably the more effective one.

Found alongside the theatrical cut, we find an audio commentary from director Shawn Levy. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and development, cast, characters and performances, story and editing, music, visual elements and cinematography, music, sets and locations, effects, and a smattering of other areas.

Levy offers a relentlessly peppy, bubbly track, but that doesn’t make it a content-free lovefest. Yes, Levy tosses in some of the expected praise, but he also delivers a lot of good information about the production. This becomes a high-energy and interesting discussion.

Although the extended cut includes unused footage, we get even more elsewhere. We find our Deleted Scenes (5:47), a collection of Alternate Takes (1:48), and four Extended Scenes (10:25). By far the longest of the deleted scenes shows Phil’s difficult attempt to parallel park. It’s mildly funny but lasts far too long for a minor joke.

Another deleted scene depicts the movie’s first “date night”, and it sets up Phil’s refusal to listen to the GPS. The segment that pays off this sentiment didn’t make the theatrical cut – though it’s in the longer version – so this one became superfluous; it’s pretty funny, though. Additionally, we see more of Holbrooke’s apartment – an unnecessary set-up for another gag – and the final one allows a little reinforcement for the couple’s family attachment.

“Alt City” gives us unused takes for the scenes at the strip club and the restaurant. Both sections are funny, though we already see similar “Claw” footage during the end credits. Finally, the “Extended Scenes” add to pieces at the couples’ night, the phone call to the babysitter, Claire at work, and Holbrooke’s apartment. The final one proves to be the most substantial. None of them seem to be terribly memorable, though some amusing material does appear.

A few featurettes follow. Directing 301 goes for 21 minutes, 48 seconds and offers notes from Levy, 1st AD/executive producer Josh McLaglen, transportation coordinator Tom McGoldrick, editor Dean Zimmerman, director’s assistant Regina Taufen, production assistant, Alex Beteul, script supervisor Diane Durant and camera operator Andrew Rowlands. Rather than follow the standard “making of” format, “301” gives us a look at a typical day on the set. In addition to raw footage, it uses a multimedia format to add text info about the subjects. We get a nice look behind the scenes in this fun examination of various topics.

Disaster Dates runs four minutes, 43 seconds, and provides comments from actors Steve Carell, Leighton Meester, Mark Wahlberg, Tina Fey, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Jimmi Simpson, Kristen Wiig, Olivia Munn, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Will.I.Am and Bill Burr. They discuss various bad dates in this moderately amusing piece.

Next we get the three-minute, 46-second Directing Off Camera. We see the manner in which Levy shouts direction at his actors while the camera runs. It offers another interesting glimpse behind the scenes.

Steve and Tina Camera Tests gives us another view of a filmmaking area we don’t normally see. Levy sets up the reel and then we see Carell and Fey pose in a variety of movie outfits. If nothing else, it’s worthwhile to see more of Fey in a sexy stripper outfit.

After this we find a Gag Reel. The five-minute, 49-second piece presents some of the standard goofs and giggles, but it also throws in a few outtakes. Those make it much enjoyable than usual.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of three PSAs. These fill a total of two minutes, two seconds, and feature Fey and Carell as they try to advocate “National Date Night”. They’re amusing.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Just Wright, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Modern Family.

A second disc throws in a Digital Copy of Date Night. As expected, this allows you to plop the flick on a viewing gadget or computer. I have nothing to say about that.

While it never reinvents the “fish out of water” wheel, Date Night still proves to be thoroughly entertaining. Much of the credit goes to an excellent cast highlighted by fine performances from Tina Fey and Steve Carell. The Blu-ray gives us decent to good picture and audio as well as a useful, engaging set of supplements. I like this flick and think the Blu-ray serves it nicely.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main