"Date Night" fun, but awkward

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If “The Office” and “30 Rock” don’t have you convinced that Steve Carell and Tina Fey are funny people, here’s some advice: crawl out from under your rock and go see “Date Night.”

These two exceptional comic actors tweak their television personas to become Claire and Phil Foster, a New Jersey married couple stuck in the suburban doldrums.

Courtesy of www.z.about.com

Realizing their special night off — “date night” — has turned into just another routine, Claire and Phil decide to venture into New York City to reignite the sparks in their romance.

They steal another couple’s reservation at a swanky new restaurant and are promptly mistaken for the other couple by gangsters. There they begin a fast-paced, 90–minute exercise in the comic-action movie format.

It does better than recent attempts, and far surpasses “Bounty Hunter” — though I’m not really sure if that’s a victory.

Simply being better than other movies doesn’t necessarily make a great movie, though “Date Night” does try hard.

Sub in Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Hiegl for Claire, and Gerard Butler or Ashton Kutcher for Phil, and “Date Night” would be another forgettable (or unforgettably terrible) rom–com.

The plot is choppy to the point of irrelevance, and some of the jokes fall awkwardly flat.

It is the presence of Fey and Carell — and their combined comedic chemistry — that makes the movie worthwhile.

This becomes abundantly clear during the end credits that are accompanied by a series of bloopers and outtakes.

These bloopers prove the stars spent the majority of filming improvising and riffing off each other.

It’s too bad the studio decided not to include some of the scenes in the actual movie.

Some of the cut jokes are funnier than any of the written lines.

Fey ends the bloopers with a hysterical joke, though far too dirty for the final cut.

There are some memorable scenes, most notably a new take on the standard car chase that manages to be funny and exciting at the same time.

And the star cameos never fail to reawaken the movie when it dulls down. James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg (talking dirty in Hebrew!) and Kristin Wiig are always welcome.

Ray Liotta, looking more Botox-ed than ever, shows up to do his regular schtick, and William Fichtner as the NYC DA scores some laughs in a late strip club scene.

All this adds up to a movie with some seriously funny people and a few blissfully funny moments.

Sadly, the plot and the complete lack of romantic chemistry between Fey and Carell undermine “Date Night’s” redemptive improvisation.

The absence of any PDA didn’t hit me, though, until they shared a relief-filled kiss at the very end of the movie.

It embarrassed me.

I’ll take a Steve Carell–Tina Fey comedy match–up any day, but let’s be honest: no one wants to see Michael Scott and Liz Lemon get it on.

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