At first glance, this doesn't seem like the kind of comedy that would succeed or fail on the basis of its stars, but pay close attention to the payoff scenes and consider whether any of it is funny without what they bring to the table.
Phil Foster (Steve Carell) and his wife Claire (Tina Fey) are a New Jersey couple who try to break their routine with dinner at a posh Manhattan restaurant. Getting a table will, unfortunately, require stealing the spot of a couple who don't claim their reservation a couple that appears to have crossed the wrong people.
The late-night odysseys of average folks have generated off-beat comedies like After Hours and Into the Night over the years, but Josh Klausner's script points itself in much more conventional directions involving car chases and shootouts.
Its up to Fey and Carell to provide the flavor, and they do so in hilarious scenes where its clear they were told basically, "Say and do funny things here." You can see the strain in a late scene in which Phil and Claire do an impromptu pole-dance at a sex club, the intentional physical awkwardness not playing to the actors strengths.
When Fey and Carell aren't nailing a scene in Date Night, there's really not much reason to be watching. But when they are, you realize that making a successful Hollywood comedy is sometimes as simple as pointing talented performers in the right direction and getting the hell out of the way. Grade: B-
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