The Review: Steve Carell and Tina Fey – two of the most popular comedy stars of the small screen in the USA. So it seems inevitable in retrospect that someone would have wanted to put them in a comedy together onscreen. The problem is, they’ve ended up in one made by Shawn Levy, who’s managed to turn out two sizeable box office hits in the Night At The Museum franchise, but otherwise has done little to help the comedy careers of those in his movies (and he’s had a good go at finishing off the career of Steve Martin).
So we end up with a fairly polished product, but one with a very direct plot, which consequently requires the characters to keep churning out exposition at regular intervals, and that in turn seems to stifle the actors’ comedy instincts and process. Carell and Fey demonstrate repeatedly that they are at their best when the action stops and they can just riff of each other and improvise, as also proved by the end credit out-takes.
The plot would actually implode if you thought about it for more than a few seconds, so unlikely are the set of events the characters work their way through. On that journey, the standouts are Mark Wahlberg as a put-upon security expert and James Franco, once again showing his gifts are probably best suited to comedy. But any film that has to resort to Ray Liotta as a rent-a-mafia-head is not going to win awards for originality.
But it’s Carell and Fey who keep the whole show moving, and their easy chemistry makes this periodically entertaining – I would be lying if I said I didn’t laugh out loud a couple of times – but you can’t escape the feeling that they both deserve a little better than this.
Why see it at the cinema: There’s a couple of set pieces, especially the car chase, that will reward those who choose to spend their date night at the cinema.
The Score: 6/10