Just looking at the first photograph from the upcoming Steve Carell and Tina Fey comedy, Date Night, makes me smile. Carell and Fey, the king and queen of NBC’s Thursday night comedy line-up, are both known for making even the most ridiculous of characters sympathetic and human (Fey’s Sarah Palin being the best example).  They’ve earned so much comedic credit along the way and they look cute together. Knowing that, I want to say this is sure to be the funniest movie of 2010.

Even better, they’re supported by a cast of standouts from both the comedy and dramatic world: Kristin Wiig, James Franco, Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis and Mark Wahlberg.

So then why aren’t I more enthused?

The story sounds solid enough; Carell and Fey play characters who have achieved the American dream: happily married with nice kids, a nice house, and a nice life. In fact, it’s so nice that they’re bored. When friends who seem to have an equally ideal existence announce they’re getting divorced, our protagonists decide to reignite the old passion before it burns out for good.

But the fire proves hard to start. In one scene, they try getting it on, but end up turning one another off. This leads to the title event, a date night in which they pretend to be glamorous people meeting for a romantic dinner.  There’s mistaken identities, a mafia attempt on their life, and a chase through the streets of New York, with plenty of laughs along the way.

That’s the idea anyway.

The director, Shawn Levy, struck box office gold with the Night at the Museum movies, but many (myself included) found themselves groaning more than guffawing. And like many of Hollywood’s perfect failures, this one comes from a team of writers.  The first draft, by Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Ocean’s Thirteen), won an honorable mention from the 2008 Hollywood BBC Elite List. But that’s since been re-written by Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, X-Men: The Last Stand), Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses), and Josh Klausner (Shrek the Third, the upcoming Shrek Forever After and the just-announced Thomas The Tank Engine movie).  For those who weren’t keeping count, that breaks down to action, romance, and yucks.

Here’s the full pic:

No question Carell and Fey are funny people, but with flimsy material and lackluster direction, this comedy might fall flat on its face even while it whistles its way to the bank. What’s your take?

Date Night hits theaters April 9, 2010.

Source: USA Today