Let me be the first to tell you, Date Night is not a good movie. It is in nearly all respects a mediocre, poorly directed comedy, and not half as good as a movie featuring both Tina Fey and Steve Carell should be. And yet, if you do find yourself seeing Date Night this weekend, you may wind up laughing a lot more than you ever would have expected from a movie by the guy who directed Night at the Museum 2. And that's because, almost despite itself, Date Night is sometimes very, very funny.
Thanks to some clever casting, a few good jokes and some very awkward dancing, there are moments in Date Night that will make you feel it was worth spending the money, however fleetingly. None of it is enough reason to see the movie, but if you do get stuck in a theater that's showing Date Night this weekend, here are five things you have to look forward to.
Tina Fey & Steve Carell, period. Their pairing as lead couple Phil and Claire Foster is pretty much the only reason to see this movie, and the advertising campaign knows it. Though people thrilled to see Liz Lemon and Michael Scott finally interacting when bad editing messes up many of the best moments between them, the two prove their expert comedic chops time and time again. And they work surprisingly well as a couple too-- their game of making up dialogue for other couples in restaurants feels like something your favorite funny couple would do, and the moony eyes they make at each other near the end of the film feel earned, even though nothing in the movie itself actually did that. They're just that good together.
Mila Kunis & James Franco. They're just part of a long series of cameos in the film, from Mark Ruffalo to, inexplicably, Will.i.am, but Kunis and Franco are given the most room to run free with some truly ridiculous improv, and it pays off. The point of watching them argue is supposed to be seeing Phil and Claire recognizing their own problems, but it's really just silly fun to see Franco thump a tattoo of Kunis's face on his chest, or cry out that he doesn't want to be selling stolen wheelchairs all his life. In a film full of lots of boring digressions, this is one that's well worth taking.
The stripper dance scene. Late in the film, for reasons not all that worth explaining, Phil and Claire are forced to do their best idea of a stripper routine. Take the best of Liz Lemon and Michael Scott's dance moves, throw in a tiny bit of sexuality and a stripper pole, and you've got a dance that's too awkward and wonderful to be believed. Sure it goes on a little too long and is an overused movie trope to begin with, but you've never seen it quite like this before.
Mark Wahlberg being sorta in on the joke, sorta not. It's almost as if director Shawn Levy saw the "Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals" sketch, decided to cast Samberg to play Wahlberg, and then was pleasantly surprised when Wahlberg himself signed on. Though Wahlberg pulls off a few good jokes of his own, and flexes those pecs for all to see, he also seems not quite there, as if he's been told he's in a serious drama and thinks he's carrying a lot of gravitas. Even when the shirtless joke gets overplayed, Wahlberg's spaciness-- deliberate or not--- is another joke all its own.
"Claw, you're welcome." Claw, the super-trendy seafood restaurant where Phil and Claire first into trouble is a pitch-perfect imitation of ridiculous New York restaurants, from the expansive feel to the bitchy waitstaff who answer the phones with a patronizing "Claw, you're welcome." There aren't nearly enough little New Yorky details like that in the film, and even the Claw scenes don't take the parody far enough, but anyone who's ever been in a restaurant where they felt out of their league will totally sympathize with Claire and Phil.