Teaming up Tina Fey and Steve Carell stars of 30 Rock and The Office is a tantalizing prospect for fans of NBC’s back-to-back Thursday night sitcoms. But their big-screen collaboration the action comedy Date Night yields surprisingly little of the comic synergy one would expect from such a potent one-two punch.
In fact it probably never could have — at least not with director Shawn Levy (The Pink Panther Night at the Museum) overseeing the action. Soon after Fey and Carell emerge on-screen playing a suburban married couple whose relationship has devolved into a dull domestic routine the mistake of their pairing becomes evident. Seeing them together serves only to heighten our recall of their TV work and we can’t help but pine for them as Liz Lemon and Michael Scott. But in Date Night they are stubbornly moored to their portrayals of Phil and Claire Foster two entirely normal people who get along perfectly well but who’ve grown a little bored with their daily lives.
Normal of course isn’t ever very funny (if it were Mormons would rule the stand-up circuit). As such the humor in Date Night is supposed to emanate from the extraordinary circumstances with which the Fosters are faced (a case of mistaken identity makes them the target of corrupt cops and the centerpiece of a criminal conspiracy) the desperate lengths they go to get out of trouble and the interesting personalities they meet along the way. None of which unfortunately director Levy or screenwriter Josh Klausner are equipped to provide. As a result two very funny actors are left to twist in the wind for nearly 90 minutes.
What the film cries out for most is a quality supporting player a Dwight Schrute or a Tracy Jordan to enliven the action and give stars Fey and Carell something — anything — to play against but no one in Date Night proves up to the task. Not the mirthless one-dimensional goons tailing the Fosters. Not the mobster played by Ray Liotta who looks more tired of his novelty Goodfellas shtick than we are. And most certainly not Mark Wahlberg whose comic routine in Date Night involves his face playing straight man to his pectorals.
The action is briefly energized by James Franco and Mila Kunis appearing together in a hilarious surprise cameo (oops!) as a feuding miscreant couple. Their comic spark instantly eclipses that of Fey and Carell yielding more laughs in a two-minute span than the two stars are able to conjure throughout the entirety of the film. Unfortunately for us they leave Date Night almost as quickly as they arrive taking their spark with them.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Fresh out of the slammer Calvin “Babyface” Sims (Marlon Wayans)--or to us “Little Man”--robs a jewelry store along with his partner in crime Percy P (Tracy Morgan). After the heist is somewhat botched Calvin drops the jewel in the purse of an unsuspecting young woman Vanessa (Kerry Washington) in an attempt to elude cops. Calvin then follows Vanessa and her husband Darryl (Shawn Wayans) out to their suburban home where it’s calm and where the thief learns Darryl is desperate to father a child. So three-foot-tall Calvin shows up on Darryl’s doorstep in a dog basket goo-goo-ga-ga-ing much to the couple’s delight. They take him in and turn a blind eye on the fact that he has facial stubble and a mouthful of pearly whites as Cal tries repeatedly to retrieve the diamond. Amid countless muck-ups and pratfalls the trio grows closer with even Cal showing his heartfelt side. But he is still a criminal with a motive a motive which Vanessa’s elderly father (John Witherspoon) thinks he’s got figured out. Shawn and Marlon Wayans are easily two of the top five actors in the Wayans clan which is a feat if you know their genealogy but at this point it’d be nice to split the brothers up. Their roles here weren’t easily executable--especially Marlon’s--but it’s as if they implore us to not see them as artists. Marlon whose head is superimposed atop a little person’s body--a not-so-special effect--boasts some funny lines as a hardened thief but makes for a grating “toddler ” even though most will inexplicably find his proportions to be hilarious. Meanwhile Shawn actually steals more of the physical gags like getting hit in the groin oh maybe a dozen times by various objects. And it’s a sad day in Hollywood when people like Ray’s Kerry Washington bolt the good stuff for a Wayans vehicle but hey at least she looks great! The true comedy here sparse as it may be comes from numerous cameos by In Living Color alumni and three SNL-ers (Rob Schneider Molly Shannon and Tracy Morgan). Marlon Shawn and Keenen Ivory Wayans are an absolute testament to the Hollywood Machine in action. They “get” Hollywood more than perhaps even George Lucas does making them studio execs’ best friends. They are also more in touch with their fanbase than anyone and churn out precisely what their loyalists crave. In short they are utterly fascinating. Their movies? Not so much. Director Keenen often seems to mistake irreverent for crude and co-writers Marlon and Shawn--well clearly they didn’t envision a brainbuster but they produced (at least) one: We’re merely supposed to laugh at the fact that Vanessa and Darryl don’t notice Calvin’s perpetually changing ages spewing unintelligible babytalk in one scene and playing football in the next. Otherwise it’s more or less a series of Keenen alternating locales to exploit pratfalls that would arise if the man-child problem existed.
Top Story: Model Jenna Survives for $1 Million
Twenty-one-year-old swimsuit model Jenna Morasca was named CBS' Survivor: The Amazon's newest millionaire after the final ballots were tallied and announced during the live finale Sunday. Morasca beat runner-up 33-year-old restaurant designer Matthew Von Ertfelda, who won $100,000. She told The Associated Press that in December she returned home to Pittsburgh from her adventure expecting that the sealed vote had gone Von Ertfelda's way: "He embodies everything a survivor is. He's an amazing guy." "But I'm so proud of myself," she added, "and happy that I won." What does she plan to do with the money? Pay school loans and take her mom on a vacation, Morasca told AP. "Then we'll see if there's anything left."
Cruise Bids Fond Farewell to New Zealand
After wrapping his latest film The Last Samurai in the Taranaki province of New Zealand, Tom Cruise, who spent four months there with his two children, admitted to a local New Zealand radio station he was going to miss the locale, AP reports. "I'm going to miss the fish and chips, we're going to miss our Friday night McDonald's you know, we are going to miss the beach at night," the actor said.
Moore Released From Hospital
Roger Moore, best known for playing James Bond in seven movies during the '70s and '80s, was released from the hospital Friday after being fitted for a pacemaker to control normal heart rhythm, AP reports. Moore, 75, collapsed last Wednesday during a guest cameo in the Broadway comedy The Play What I Wrote but was able to finish the show.
Romano Stays On for $50 Million
Everybody Loves Raymond star Ray Romano will soon be known as the highest-paid actor in television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Romano has agreed to do an eighth season of his Emmy-winning sitcom, which will net him nearly $50 million. The comedian will be making about $1.7-$1.8 million per episode, surpassing the record of $1.6 million held by Frasier's Kelsey Grammer.
NBC Slates Six New Shows for Fall
After much gnashing of teeth, NBC has chosen six new shows--three comedies and three dramas--to fill out their fall schedule. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has made 13-episode orders for untitled Tracy Morgan and Whoopi Goldberg comedies and an adaptation of the BBC ensemble comedy Coupling, as well as an untitled Las Vegas drama starring James Caan, an ensemble legal drama with Rob Lowe, and the dramedy Miss/Match starring Alicia Silverstone.
Osbourne Says So Long to Sony
Rocker Ozzy Osbourne has decided to part ways with Sony Music after 23 years--and he is taking his daughter Kelly with him. Business Wire.com reports wife Sharon is negotiating the separation deals for Ozzy and Kelly, who signed with Sony in 2000, and said in a statement, "We've had 23 great years together. We've shared many great successes, but sometimes you have to search out fresh blood to get fresh ideas which is a philosophy that every record company, especially Sony, understands."
Three Men Caught RentingIllegal Military Props
Two ex-soldiers and a third man who run a thriving Hollywood props shop have allegedly been caught falsifying Army documents to gather weapons and military gear to rent to the movie industry, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of the props, an Army mechanic's toolbox, was used in the 1997 film McHale's Navy, according to a 16-count federal indictment filed in March. Named in the complaint were former Army Sgt. Matthew Robert Anderson, former Army Reserve Capt. Steve Goyen and Jared Jeffrey Chandler, who allegedly falsely claimed to be an Army Reserve sergeant.
Carol Channing Weds Childhood Sweetheart
Eight-two-year-old Carol Channing, best known for originating the part of Dolly in the musical Hello, Dolly! on Broadway, married her childhood sweetheart, 83-year-old Harry Kullijian, in San Francisco, Calif. Sunday. Reuters reports the two were once an item when they were in junior high, but when Kullijian found out Channing wanted to see him after all these years, he admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle, "I thought she was dead." He then added, "She still had the same spark. I just knew it was the right thing to do."
After 10 days of treatment, musician Billy Joel is set to leave Connecticut's Silver Hill Hospital on Wednesday, reports the New York Daily News.The 53-year-old singer intends to head straight for his home in the Hamptons following his stay at the clinic, which specializes in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Joel's spokeswoman said that following some down time in the Hamptons, he will head to Chicago, where a new stage show titled Movin' Out, featuring his songs, is holding its pre-Broadway tryout.
Nicole Kidman, who is headed to Romania next month to shoot parts of her next film based on the Civil War-era novel Cold Mountain, may have to contend with rather unusual dressing quarters: a bus used by a former communist dictator. The Associated Press reports that the bus once carried Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed 13 years ago, around the country on working visits. The bus has since been refurbished with solid wood furniture and a luxury bathtub.
John McEnroe said he is very disappointed with the statements his ex-wife Tatum O'Neal made on ABC's 20/20, including allegations that the former tennis pro took steroids when he was on the pro tennis tour, reports AP. O'Neal, who was responding to McEnroe's new autobiography You Cannot Be Serious, said he also used marijuana and cocaine, but only off the court. The interview airs Friday.
Go Bernie Mac! The comedian is in talks to star in the remake of the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner for Columbia Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original feature, directed by Stanley Kramer, starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as parents whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter begins dating a black man, played by Sidney Poitier. This summer, Mac is set to begin work on Charlie's Angels 2; Head of State, directed by Chris Rock; and Bad Santa alongside Billy Bob Thornton.
Will Smith and Ryan Phillippe are teaming up to produce White Boy Shuffle, based on a novel by Paul Beatty, Variety reports. The film follows a young black kid whose Santa Monica, Calif., beach life comes to a halt when his family moves to South Central Los Angeles. How Stella Got Her Groove Back's Kevin Sullivan is attached to direct.
Lil' Romeo will star opposite Jessica Alba in Universal's Honey, a music-driven coming-of-age drama about a tough inner-city woman who wants to start a neighborhood dance studio and is then discovered by a music mogul. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, directed by music video director Billie Woodruff, begins production Sept. 9 in Toronto.
Jim Henson Pictures, the company behind The Muppets, is teaming up with MGM to make a film about a group of alien dogs, Variety reports. Good Boy! follows the adventures of an alien dog that comes to Earth from Sirius, the Dog Star, to investigate reports that his fellow canines have abandoned their original plan to take over the planet. Shooting is scheduled to begin in August in Vancouver, Canada.
Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, James Taylor and Ray Charles will perform on the NBC special The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular live from 9 to 10 p.m. ET and also from 9 to 10 p.m. in each of the other three continental time zones, Launch.com reports. Rob Lowe will host the hour-long special, which will feature special guest appearances from former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Harrison Ford, Mike Myers and Sigourney Weaver.