Date Night review (Blu-ray)

Even the very best half-hour sitcom struggles to keep the laughs coming for the whole of its running time. So when a 90-minute feature film delivers a constant stream of laugh-out-loud moments, it’s a gem to be treasured. Date Night is one such movie.

The plot itself is totally ludicrous – if you’re looking for verisimilitude you’re looking in the wrong place. Phil Foster (Carell) and his wife Claire (Fey) work hard all day and at least as hard when they’re at home with their young children. But even so, they make the effort to have a "date night" now and again. However, with even these becoming increasingly predictable and the Fosters’ friends on the verge of splitting up, these are trying times. So one night, Phil decides to take Claire to a posh new restaurant in New York but without a reservation they seem doomed to a night of disappointment. But then, Phil takes a chance by pretending to be someone else and secures a table. However, this leads to a case of mistaken identity and suddenly the Fosters are caught up in a web of intrigue, danger, confusion and laughs.

Mainly laughs though for this is a supremely well crafted script from Josh Klausner. Perhaps most crucially, the Fosters are an entirely believable couple, likeable but flawed, and although they love each other, their busy lives are getting in the way of their own relationship. Carell and Fey are perfect, absolutely perfect foils for one another and the way they act and react to familiar situations (potential opportunities for sex, figuring out what other couples’ stories are in restaurants) is wonderfully observed.

While these two are clearly the stars of the show, there is excellent support from Wahlberg as a private investigator with an aversion to shirts, and Franco and Kunis in brief cameos as the couple whose identities the Fosters have stolen – when these two couple eventually meet it’s one of the high points of an already hilarious film. Date Night is a rarity in modern cinema – a comedy with dozens of belly laughs, a heart and two top class performances from genuine stars. Let’s hope the Fey and Carell partnership gets another outing with as good a script as this very soon indeed. Highly recommended.

EXTRAS ★★★½ The film itself is an "extended edition", running about 10 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. You also get a digital copy of the film, for play on a computer or an iPad or whatever. Among the bonus material is three featurettes: Directing 101 (22 minutes) with Shawn Levy, Disaster Dates(4 minutes) in which cast members recall their worst dates, and Directing Off Camera (4 minutes); five deleted scenes and four extended scenes; Steve and Tina's camera tests; a six-minute gag reel; and the theatrical trailer. There are also Live Extras, which you can access if your Blu-ray player is connected to the internet. The main one here is a three-and-a-half minute interview with Fey and Carell. An OK package, but a commentary of some kind would have been nice.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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