At The Theater #18: Date Night

I should have known that Date Night was going to be a disappointment right at the first scene. Steve Carell, playing New Jersey accountant Phil Foster, is in a meeting with that annoying SNL couple that call each other babe all the time and ignores whoever they’re talking to. A couple of questions: Does anyone anywhere find these characters funny on SNL? Does even Jason Sudeikis hate these characters enought that they had to replace him from a role he started on SNL?

Speaking of SNL, Kristin Wiig also has a minor part in the movie. You might not recognize her, because she’s not playing the Target Lady. Until now I was convinced that the Target Lady was the only character Kristin Wiig could play. I can’t be the only one who thinks that every one of her characters on SNL is the Target Lady in a different outfit.

When your movie revolves around how boring the main characters’ marriage is, you have to be very careful to not bore your audience. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told the makers of Date Night this. The movie has some very funny comedic high points, but for the most part, it just meanders around why Phil and Claire’s marriage is a snooze fest, which causes those scenes to be a bit of a snooze fest.

I can’t hate on Date Night completely. Looking at the graph, you can see that I thought there were some very funny bits in it. And it’s true, the jokes that work really work. There just aren’t enough of them, and one of the jokes that worked, Phil and Claire being given a hard time about taking another couple’s dinner reservation, is beaten to death so badly that I think they rehash it more times in the movie than I saw it seeing the preview a few times. I don’t feel bad about spoiling this joke, since it’s in the preview, but I won’t spoil any of the other parts I found funny, because that will just rob the humor out of them if you see the movie, and Date Night doesn’t have that many funny parts to spare.

Mila Kunis and James Franco are great as the couple whose dinner reservation Phil and Claire steal. In fact, their spot in Date Night’s preview made me want to see the movie. Unfortunately, they’re not in the movie much longer than they are in the preview. I really hate when that happens, when the characters in a preview that convince you to see a movie are barely in the movie and the preview gives away most of the funny parts.

We’re in this blog post longer than we’re in this movie.

Ray Liotta plays a mob boss in Date Night. Don’t make this the reason you see Date Night. If you loved Good Fellas to the point that you want to see him play a gangster again, watch Good Fellas again; you’ll definitely enjoy it more. If you want to see him do comedy, find a theater showing Snowmen; he’s funnier in that.

We saw the movie at Park Slope’s Pavilion movie theater. Avoid this place. Tickets are $12 and the theater does not live up to the ticket price. The seats that aren’t broken smell of a fine mix of mildew and body odor. The theaters are about the size of your living room and the screens aren’t much bigger than a home projector. I remember enjoying this theater in the past; I used to find it charming in the same way I find the Cobble Hill Theater charming. It was definitely one of Brooklyn’s best theaters not too long ago. I don’t know what’s caused it to drop into such a state of disrepair.

After Date Night, Julie mentioned that she thought we saw more good movies in 2008 when we first did this movie a week thing than we are so far this year. I’m hoping this trend reverses soon.