Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ten Statements About....DATE NIGHT (2010)

Okay, so their knowledge of the New York Subway system
is hinky....
"They stabbed a chicken nugget with a sharpie.  These are bad people."

1) This film would not work without the sheer primal chemistry between Steve Carell and Tina Fey.  The two of them have such a chemistry that you thoroughly believe that they are a long-standing married couple with two kids wondering if they're in a rut.  The way these two interact keep this movie moving forward even when it stalls and sputters.

2) ...and it's to the credit of John Klausner's script that it lets its leads behave awkwardly and out of touch, but never does it allow them to behave stupidly.  Just something as simple as going to the cops after their first encounter with the bad guys makes perfect sense.  It's these little niggling things so many other movies would ascribe to 'just go with it' that Klausner takes care to resolve, allowing us to move forward much more quickly and not get bogged down with the implausibilities.

3) I'll admit it....the geography of this film is real hinky, given how our heroes move from Soho to Central Park to Alphabet City to the Hudson River (they say it's the East River, but it's obvious the way that sequence was filmed that it's the west side of the city) and beyond in one night at breakneck speed.  And yet, unlike other films that mangle New York geography, the script is so effective, and the narrative flow is so fast-paced and smooth, that I didn't notice these discrepencies until after the movie was over.

4) Having seen other 'action comedies' recently that are clumsily constructed, I have to admire how the 'action' and the 'comedy' parts of this film are so well-integrated.  There is none of the herky-jerky stop and start flow that so many modern action comedies have, and each set piece moves into the next smoothly and without any sudden changes in tone.
"Yeah, Mila...I just figured what the Hell, I'll be a crackhead
petty criminal in this movie...looks like fun."

5) It does seem like cameos/small roles are de riguer for comedies these days, and the ones that appear here are much better than the average, from Ray Liotta’s gangster to Mark Wahlberg’s security expert, they’re well cast and well handled.  That being said...

6) I get the impression that as long as it interests or entertains him, James Franco will appear in anything.  His turn opposite Mila Kunis as the couple (named Taste and Whippet) Carell and Fey’s Fosters are mistaken for is a true highlight of the film--and also provides a mirror to their own status as being in a long standing relationship--but all the time the scene was unspooling, all I could think of was ‘what is James Franco doing here?’

7) No wonder Tajari P. Henson left Person of Interest, as her Detective Arroyo is practically to all extent and purposes the detective she played in this series, only a lot less serious...which means she was playing the same character for four years.
Sumptin' for da laaaadies....

8) There are some songs that simply should be banned from ever appearing on movies again.  Look, I love Jackie Wilson as much as the next person, but when they used ‘Higher And Higher’ as the outro it just screwed up what is supposed to be an up moment.

9) With the exception of a running gag involving vomit, I’m pleased that this film is relatively clean of that grossess-for-the-sake-of grossness that infuses so much of modern comedy.

10) It’s funny; as much noise as this film seems to make about Fey showing up in this stripper saloon girl outfit, there’s nothing that really tops how she looks in that simple blue dress.  The elegance of it just emphasizes what needs to be emphasizes.

Overall...a very clever action comedy bouyed by the chemistry of the leads, a clever script and some great casting.

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