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Blu-ray Review: Date Night

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Written by Caballero Oscuro

Director Shawn Levy had a simple idea for Date Night: make a movie about the rituals of marriage, and what might happen if those rituals got blown to smithereens one night. Working with writer Josh Klausner, the idea was fleshed out into a rollicking comedy that has some real heart thanks to the performances of stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey.

Carell and Fey play a long-time married couple named the Fosters who have fallen deeply into a rut of familiarity and routine. Their regularly scheduled date nights invariably involve the same activities at the same venues, offering no respite from their mundane lives. When a fellow married couple announces their impending divorce, the Fosters take a hard look at their own lives and see that there’s very little preventing them from the same fate. Hoping to spice up their marriage, they set out on a date to a hip upscale eatery in Manhattan, well outside their New Jersey suburb comfort zone. Upon arriving at the trendy restaurant and finding no tables available, they steal another couple’s reservation. Unfortunately, their assumed identities also make them the targets of a couple of hitmen looking for a mysterious flash drive, throwing them into a precarious adventure that leads them through the outskirts of the criminal underworld and police system.

The outcome of the basic plot is about what anyone would expect and offers nothing truly original. However, the comedic flair of Carell and Fey enliven the proceedings with occasionally side-splitting results. The biggest surprise is the film’s tender moments, where Carell and Fey bring some believable emotion and chemistry to their interactions as husband and wife. It’s no stretch to imagine that they’re bringing their own life experiences to the table as long-time dedicated family members, but it’s still refreshing to see how well they play to each other’s strengths rather than try to one-up each other.

On Blu-ray, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound is superb and the 2.35:1 picture is suitably precise, although there’s a bit of noticeable graininess at times in spite of the fact that it was shot on digital. This can probably be accounted for by the film’s almost entirely night setting with its associated lower light, but it still surprised me when the bonus features disclosed that the movie was shot on digital instead of film. The Blu package also includes a second disc with Digital Copy for download to PC and portable media players.

The Blu-ray is stuffed with bonus features including standard offerings such as deleted/alternate/extended scenes, options to view either the theatrical or extended version of the film (about 15 minutes difference), and audio commentary from Levy on the theatrical version. Other unique features include Carell and Fey’s original camera tests (which were repurposed for the film’s early posters), fake public service announcements by Carell and Fey, disaster date stories from most of the cast, and by far the best and most interesting feature: a 20+ minute behind-the-scenes Directing 301 featurette that follows the production over an entire day, showing and explaining in detail all the setups, crew roles, and logistical challenges needed to capture a few simple scenes. Kudos to Levy and the crew for allowing and participating in this enlightening glimpse into the production.

Date Night is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download.

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  • http://pwinn.tumblr.com/ Phillip Winn

    I guess I need to see this, finally.