- Released Internationally on 08/04/10
- Released in Malta by KRS on 21/04/10
In a nutshell
Two of the biggest names in comedy, Steve Carell (star of The Office and The 40 Year Old Virgin) and Tina Fey (star, writer and director of 30 Rock) team up as a married couple whose relationship has settled into a rather mundane routine, but who try to keep it interesting with regular date nights. On one such occasion, they give a different surname to get a table at a crowded restaurant, and the mistaken identity lands them in a spot of bother. Not being used to high-speed chases, rapid gunfire and underground crime-rings, the couple end up having an interesting evening.
Making it work
In the hands of anyone else, this could easily have turned out to be a mediocre and instantly forgettable comedy. The script is rather ridiculous at times, skimming lightly and quickly over major plot points just to get to where the laughs and action are. But the suspension of belief is worth our while once we get to enjoy the bigger picture. Who cares why the couple needed to leave a house in a stolen car rather than on foot, if the resulting car chase is one of the most enjoyable chase sequences in recent years? Why bother about how the couple end up at the Central Park boathouse, of all places, if it leads to one of the funniest single shots in the whole film?
Ultimately, the reason it all works is due to the starring couple. Carell and Fey bring their characters Phil and Claire Foster wonderfully to life. By the end of the film, you'll be wondering why these two haven't worked together on the big screen before. Now both established as the king and queen of comedy on TV, they both possess enough star power to carry the film, without having lost their intrinsic dorky image which is needed here. On the contrary, the two fully embrace this uncool image in their respective TV series, and casting them as a rather boring married couple was a stroke of genius.
Although the two spouses steal the show, the often hilarious interactions with the supporting cast are a joy to watch. Mark Wahlberg (Three Kings, The Departed) lounges about, determined to remain shirtless, and helps out the couple with his high-tech gadgetry, whilst Phil squirms and Claire ogles. James Franco (Pineapple Express, Milk) and Mila Kunis (That 70s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) briefly share the limelight as a degenerate couple whose path crosses that of the Fosters, and their over-the-top relationship contrasts cleverly with the Fosters’ solid but mundane love for each other. Ray Liotta uses his Goodfellas credentials to lurk in the shadows as the mafia-style kingpin without needing much effort, and Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac, Shutter Island) has a tiny but significant early role as the close friend who sets the Fosters on their relationship renaissance. The film is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) from an original script by Josh Klausner (Shrek Forever After).
Not just funny
The laughs are plentiful and frequent, and will probably be out loud. But the connection between the two main protagonists also allows them to develop the Fosters as an endearing, imperfect, realistic couple, with waning libidos and time-consuming jobs and children that have rendered their relationship unrecognizable. When the car chases slow down, and the gunfire ceases, they naturally realise that different doesn't necessarily mean worse, and the ending manages to be satisfying without getting too syrupy. I hope this on-screen duo have more outings planned.