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In some respects, DATE NIGHT ($40) is a movie that reminds me of Martin Scorsese’s black comedy classic, AFTER HOURS, insomuch that it depicts a nighttime Manhattan as a dark, dangerous Neverland that is seemingly impossible to escape. Of course, DATE NIGHT is a far more conventional comedy than AFTER HOURS, and its humor is far less edgy. The premise of DATE NIGHT finds Steve Carell and Tina Fey in the roles of Phil and Claire Foster, a longtime married suburban couple from New Jersey, who realize that the romantic spark has gone out of their relationship due to the daily grind of working and raising two children. After learning that their best friends are getting a divorce, because their relationship has fallen into the same boring routine, Phil decides to spice up their weekly date night with an on the spur of the moment trip to Manhattan to dine at a trendy restaurant.

Of course, on the spur of the moment means they don’t have a reservation, and after a long wait at the bar, Phil takes a chance and claims the reservation for the Tripplehorns, who are no-shows for their own reservation. Soon after being seated at their table, Phil and Claire are approached by two men, who mistake them for the Tripplehorns, and taken out into the alley for a little "conversation." As it turns out, the two men are hired muscle for mob boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta), and they have come to the restaurant to retrieve a stolen flash drive from the Tripplehorns. As you might expect, the two goons don’t believe Phil and Claire’s story about their snagging an unclaimed dinner reservation… which leads the New Jersey married couple on an evening of dangerous comic misadventures that are not likely to forget. DATE NIGHT proves itself to be quite an amusing ride, with a number of very funny moments thanks to Steve Carell and Tina Fey perfectly inhabiting the roles of ordinary suburbanites, who find themselves swimming with the sharks. The cast DATE NIGHT also features Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Bill Burr, Nick Kroll, Olivia Munn and Will i Am.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made DATE NIGHT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Both the original Theatrical Version and the Extended Version of the film are present on the disc. DATE NIGHT features a pretty nice looking 1080p presentation, which doesn’t quite make for a high definition demo disc, but the visuals usually work well enough for this type of comic material. Shot digitally with Panavision Genesis cameras, DATE NIGHT should look a bit more consistent, as there are plenty of great looking moments mixed in with those that are less impressive. The image always seems to look better with more controlled lighting than it does with practical lighting. Image sharpness and fine detail can be impressive, but there are shots that appear softer than others. Colors tend to be fully saturated and attractive, with nice looking flesh tones. Blacks appear reasonably accurate and the whites are clean. Contrast is a little inconsistent, while shadow detail can be downright unimpressive. With a fully digital source, there are no print flaws. Grain/noise is noticeable, especially during darker moments.

DATE NIGHT is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most part, DATE NIGHT features a fairly conventional comedy sound design, which is occasionally enlivened by action elements. That being said, the sound is localized to the front, most of the time. There are incidental sounds that are spread through the soundstage, but the track only becomes fully engaging during a few action sequences that fall into this Manhattan misadventure. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is very strong, offering full-bodied music and convincing effects. The bass channel is solid enough to keep the sound effects from ever coming across as anemic. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Shawn Levy. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Directing 301 (twenty two minutes), Disaster Dates (five minutes), Directing Off Camera (four minutes), Steve And Tina Camera Tests (three minutes) and PSAs (two minutes). Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Alternate Takes, Gag Reel , a Theatrical Trailer, Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. DATE NIGHT is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

DATE NIGHT is an amusing way to safely spend the evening at home with your significant other. The Blu-ray presentation is pretty nice, but then again, no one expects a comedy to look or sound like the latest action blockbuster.


Date Night (Extended Edition) [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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