We Saw Date Night Today

Haven’t I learned by now to forget everything I read? Helaine always picks the right movie. She certainly did today.

My parents are in town. We’re trying to keep them busy. After all they could watch MSNBC and sit on the couch without leaving Florida! Helaine’s suggestion was we go to the movies.

For the past few weeks Helaine has wanted to see Date Night starring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. I resisted because of some pretty awful reviews. Haven’t I learned by now to forget everything I read? Helaine always picks the right movie. She certainly did today.

Carrell and Fey are a married couple with two children from suburban New Jersey. A guilt induced ‘date night’ leads to a fib which leads to mistaken identity which leads to a mad chase through New York City. The story is far fetched but Carrell and Fey are charming with very good chemistry. Sometimes that’s enough.

Helaine and my mom were very favorably impressed by a shirtless Mark Wahlberg. As Steve Carrell’s character points out, Wahlberg has muscles on his shoulders… like I couldn’t if I really wanted to.

Among the funnier supporting players was stand-up comedian J. B. Smoove as a New York cabbie who by virtue of a head-on crash and locked bumpers gets involved. Someone must have asked for a younger, safer Jimmie Walker and lucked out. This guy is very funny in scenes where heavyweight mugging is required.

The same goes for James Franco and Mila Kunis as Taste and Whippet–the people Carrell and Fey have been mistaken for. They’re great as a couple arguing while being held at gunpoint!

Like I said, parts of the story were a little beyond belief. A long sequence at a sex club late in the movie could have been shortened or even removed. Have you ever noticed no one ever asks for a movie to be longer?

Bottom line, the critics were wrong. Go see it, but don’t worry if you miss it. This movie is destined to play a few hundred times on TBS. You know the type.

Saturday Night Live – You’ve Got To Be Kidding

Over the last 32 years I have moved back and forth as a fan of Saturday Night Live. Over time the show has been both brilliant and horrendous.

We’ve re-entered the horrendous stage.

Last night’s SNL was virtually laugh free. That’s bad, because along with canning some of the on-air staff, there have been changes to the writers as well, including Tina Fey, the head writer, gone to “30 Rock.”

Funny situations were confused with funny dialog. That’s a beginner’s mistake. If the setup is inherently funny by you go nowhere, you’ve failed.

For me, it started with Dane Cook’s monologue. Stef said it was material she hadn’t seen before – laudable. But it wasn’t funny. Mostly it was forced, as if he were saying, “This is where you’re supposed to laugh,” nervously.

I will give the show some more time. I hope it finds its footing, but this is not encouraging in any sense. I didn’t see any spark.

In this day of cost conscious networks, there’s no tolerance for the type of slide that took place during the Jean Doumainon era – not by the public, not by the network.

Here are some of the most recent topics from NBC’s Saturday Night Live discussion board. Talk about being hoisted by one’s own petard:

When is Saturday Night Live going to be funny again?

I love SNL BUT …

People actually get paid to write this stuff???

Why can’t SNL be funny?

Negative…Negative people

Dane Cook was right.