Saturday 19 November 2011


(Shaun Levy, 2010)

It starts out as a gentle, funny, nicely observed little comedy of suburban family life. The first 20 minutes follow Carell and Fey's married couple through their daily routine with two jobs and two children, hectic mornings of breakfasts and lunch preparation, chronic exhaustion and endless planning plus the odd night out together in the same suburban restaurant. They have a little chemistry, both are obviously great comic talents, and the material rings true. It seems a promising start.
Then it all goes wrong. A 1980s style high concept plot kicks in involving a mob boss, corrupt cops, a D.A. with fetishes, and a stripper-cum-hooker and her lowlife boyfriend who are blackmailing them with a flash drive full of compromising pictures. This leads to dull, silly chase scenes, our protagonists mugging a lot and lots of hysterical screaming.
It's at its best whenever it slows down to allow the film we glimpsed at the beginning back in - a long argument in a car after she has gone all girly-flirty with a buff Mark Wahlberg where they admit some fears and desires, most notably - but those moments are too rare as it settles for awkward plot turns all leading towards a predictable, happy ending. A surprisingly heavyweight cast in the smallest supporting roles (Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta, James Franco, Mila Kunis and William Fichtner all show up) makes it all a bit more bearable, but the anonymous visuals and music add nothing, and by the end, despite a few big laughs, it all feels too long a an hour and a half.

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