Plot: What’s it about?
Recently I’ve started watching some older episodes of “The Office” on cable (if you can really call it cable anymore). And add to that that I just caught “The 40 Year Old Virgin” playing the other day as well. Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that both of these have one thing in common: Steve Carell. I vaguely remember Carell on “The Daily Show” but he’s made more of a name for himself in some offbeat roles like “Anchorman”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and the aforementioned “40 Year Old Virgin.” Carell, like Harrison Ford, seems to have that everyman quality that a lot of us can relate to. He’s attractive, but not that kind of attractive that makes you feel insecure. This brings us to the other half of this duo, one Tina Fey. Fey was a writer and sometimes cast member of SNL (Saturday Night Live) for several years before really making a name for herself on TV’s “30 Rock.” Oh and she looks uncannily like Sarah Palin. That’s weird. Yet it helped her career immensely. So we’ve got two TV stars, for all intents and purposes, in a feature-length film together. What worked and what didn’t?
Carell plays Phil Foster, a tax accountant from the suburbs of New Jersey. He’s been married for several years, has a loving wife and kids and is generally happy, though it seems that the stress of his life might be getting to him. Phil’s wife, Claire (Tina Fey) is a realtor who is the backbone of the family, pretty much does all the day to day “operations” of the house and is the glue that holds it together. The couple has occasional “date nights”, which usually leads them to the same restaurant down the road and merits the same results (no sex). But when Phil’s friend, Brad (Mark Ruffalo) announces he’s getting a divorce, Phil has somewhat of an epiphany. The next date night takes place in New York City at a trendy restaurant in which they don’t have reservations for. A simple white lie leads to a case of mistaken identity and all of the sudden their night on the town is a fight for survival. Crooked cops Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson) and Collins (Common) mistake the Fosters for the Tripplehorn’s and this couple has a certain piece of information that is very important. Will the Fosters make it out of their date night alive or will their attempt at fun merit a much more unfortunate result?
As I somewhat digested the movie, I do have to admit that I found myself chuckling a few times here and there, but nothing that really left an impression on me. There’s no denying that both Carell and Fey are perfectly fine in their roles, but the plot was so “been there, done that” that it’d have taken a lot more to really break the mold. The supplements confirmed my suspicions in that a majority of the scenes were heavily improvised and that’s good, I think it makes for a much more genuine movie. The cast is stellar and I did leave out Mark Wahlberg’s role as “Holbrooke” as he goes throughout the film without a shirt on (much to Phil’s dismay, I might add). I hate to sound corny here, but “Date Night” is pretty much good for just that, a movie for a rainy day or a movie on a date.
Video: How does it look?
Fox usually does a good job with their new to Blu-ray titles and this is no exception…sort of. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer looks good, but it seemed to me that it looked kind of “video’ish”. Now I know that’s not the most technical term, but some of the background scenes just seemed to be a bit out of sync with the rest of the movie. I mainly noticed this with water. The moonlight reflecting off the water just gave an eerie overall effect. Fleshtones seemed warm and natural though the movie takes place at night (for obvious reasons) and we do tend to get a lot of dark scenes. Contrast is right on the money as are the black levels. This is a tough one to score because on the surface it looks good, but I just can’t get past those handful of scenes that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Audio: How does it sound?
Comedic films and multi channel soundtracks don’t usually go hand in hand, but I will say that “Date Night” sports a pretty decent DTS HD Master Audio mix. There’s a fairly good car chase that engages all of the speakers, some gunfire and a few windows breaking. Not exactly what you’d think of when you think “good sound” but I was impressed here, to say the least. Dialogue is at the heart of the movie, as expected and it sounds very robust and clear. The LFE even come into play a few times thus creating a very rich and natural soundtrack.
Supplements: What are the extras?
First off, this disc contains both the rated and unrated version of the movie, I went with the unrated version for this review. As far as supplements go, Fox has loaded this Blu-ray down with pretty much anything and everything you’d want. We start off with an audio commentary by director Shawn Levy who, it seems, can’t get through a single sentence without laughing (I guess he was a bit more impressed with his work than I was). Still, it’s an informative commentary and if you’re a huge fan of the film, this has some tidbits of information for you. We have some PSA’s, three to be exact, as well as some deleted and extended scenes. There is an extended car chase scene though I felt the one in the movie was quite long enough, thank you. The cast also muses us with some of their own trials in the dating world and we get a gag reel to boot. The disc is also enhanced with “Live Lookup” which is Fox’s equivalent to Sony’s “MovieIQ” in which you can check the cast and crew and see what they’re working on now. It’s like a constantly updated version of Cast Bios. There’s also a second disc with a digital copy of the movie.