Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Date Night

August 17th, 2010

Date Night - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Date Night opened in theaters on April 9th, which is not exactly a prime release date. In fact, April is a bit of a dead zone when it comes to the box office. The prospect of having to go against summer blockbusters tends to scare most studios, so they don't release their prime selections. However, it opened with good reviews and showed great legs nearly getting to $100 million. However, was this success warranted, or was it a matter of even weaker competition?

The Movie

Tina Fey and Steve Carell star as Claire and Phil Foster, a married couple with two young kids. They have been married for long enough that they are in a pretty serious rut. After learning their friends are getting divorced, Phil decides he needs to shake things up. So he decides to take his wife to a fancy date night in New York City. He picks a restaurant called The Claw, but he doesn't have a reservation and by the time they get there, the place is packed. Not wanting to have to settle for the same old boring dinner out, he instead steals someone's reservations, the Tripplehorns. At first, they love the fancy dinner, but when two men approach them at their table, they figure they've been busted and are being thrown out of the restaurant.

Turns out these men don't work for the restaurant and Claire and Phil are not in trouble for stealing someone's reservation. They are in trouble because the Tripplehorns stole something and are now blackmailing someone with it. (I'm not going to say what it is, for two reasons. Firstly, it's too big of a spoiler. Secondly, it's the weakest link in the movie.) They do manage to get away from these two men and immediately run to the cops, but it turns out these two men are not thugs working for some crime boss, but cops, corrupt cops. Now they have to run around the city trying to figure out who the Tripplehorns are, what they stole, and from whom, all while saving their marriage.

This film is basically three movies crammed into one. There's the quiet relationship movie about two people concerned that their marriage is maybe not as strong as they thought it was. There's the action movie about two people who are way, way, way over their heads. And then there's the suspense movie dealing with the stolen MacGuffin and unraveling its mystery. Had all three elements worked to their potential, this would have been an awesome movie; however, only two of the three elements do work. (Coincidentally, it earned on average two positive reviews out of every three on Rotten Tomatoes.) It just seems overly complicated and not exactly well thought out. There's a scene in the extended edition where Claire and Phil are sitting on the subway and Phil is trying to explain what was on the Flashdrive and how it connects to all of the players and Claire compares it to a complicated movie. It's a cute move, but indicative of the overly complicated nature of the movie. Also, at that point we didn't even get to the last surprise twist in the film, so the truth is more complicated than the description we get.

The film does have a lot of strong performances going for it, including Tina Fey and Steve Carell, who of course have to carry the movie. They help make the Fosters a couple that we quickly become invested in. There are a lot of very talented actors playing in smaller parts from Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Common, and Jimmi Simpson. And that's not mentioning all the big names in roles that are basically glorified cameos, and there are a number of them.

The action scenes are fun, more played for comedy than thrills, which was a wise decision. I'm not saying they are poorly done, but treating the action scenes too seriously would have been too big of a tonal shift in a film that already has to deal with quiet relationship moments in-between shootouts and car chases.

Date Night is Shawn Levy's best film and while it is not as good as Mean Girls and The 40-Year Old Virgin, it is still worth checking out for fans of Tina Fey and Steve Carell.

The Extras

I only have the Blu-ray version of the movie. It has a number of extras, including an audio commentary track with Shawn Levy, but that's only on the theatrical version. The extended version is about 12 minute longer and includes a lot of extended scenes that have a few additional lines here and there. There are a ton of deleted / extended / alternative scenes. Next up is a 22-minute long making of featurette. There is a 5-minute interview featurette with the cast giving some of their dating horror stories. Directing Off Screen shows how Shawn Levy tends to give a lot of directions from off camera while keeping the cameras rolling. Camera Tests is more behind-the-scenes footage, this time from the early camera tests. There are six minutes of outtakes. And finally there are three 40-second PSAs.

The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled with some features that are actually related to the movie, plus it comes with a digital copy of the movie.

The films technical presentation is solid, but average. Solidly average. Most of the film takes place over one night, so it is a very dark film and that does cause some problems. Also, they have two versions of the film on one disc, and I think that could also go some ways in explaining why the video is not quite up to the level one would expect from a first run release. The audio can be described as "great for a dialogue driven comedy" or "a little soft for an action film". It depends on what you were expecting.

Looking at the price on Amazon.com, the Blu-ray version costs 71% more than the DVD, which is too much for this type of release. Even with the exclusive extras, this is too much. However, I can't blame the studio, as the list price is only 33% more, which is a very good deal.

The Verdict

Date Night is an excellent date night movie for couples dealing with the same issues as the Fosters are. It's funny enough that even with the problems due to the overly complicated plot, it is worth checking out, and the replay value and the extras lift it to a solid purchase. The Blu-ray does have additional extras compared to the DVD, but it also costs a lot more on Amazon.com. If you can find it for smaller premium, it is worth picking up.


- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, Date Night