Who's In It: Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P Henson, Ray Liotta, Common, James Franco, Mila Kunis
The Basics: Tina Fey and Steve Carrell go to a fancy restaurant with no reservation and fake being a couple that are already booked. Then all Foul Play-inspired hell breaks loose when corrupt cops try to kill them, thinking they're part of a blackmailing scheme. They wind up in a strip club doing the robot, hanging with nipply black-ops mercenary Mark Wahlberg and participating in a somewhat awesome car chase.
What's The Deal: I feel strong anxiety when Tina Fey is in a movie. I already know Carrell has participated in some stinky ones like Dan in Real Life and that one about being Noah and building an ark. But it'll feel like a special disappointment to me if Tina Fey is in a crappy comedy (yes, that means I liked Baby Mama). I want her to be better than that sort of thing. So it was hard for me to watch this one. It vacillates wildly and there are big missteps, mostly because the script is lazily conventional, unambitious and the director is the guy from Night at The Museum and Pink Panther. But ultimately, and thankfully, it's saved by its stars, who carry it all to safety as often as they can.
Smartest Move: Letting Fey and Carrell improvise. You can't tell it's happening while you watch it. But then you get to see some outtakes over the closing credits and no two line readings are the same. It's like they were given a bare-bones script and told to insert funny material. And there's such a good dynamic between them that you know if that script had been better in the first place then the film would have been brilliant instead of just good enough.
Let's Stop The Momentum For Some Heartfelt B.S. and And Other Grave Errors: The mechanics of the crime element could have been less by-the-numbers. They waste an opportunity to provide an imaginative scenario in which to drop these two characters. And worse, what I really don't need from an action comedy starring two of America's funniest people is for the whole thing to grind to a halt every so often so they can bond over how much they're supposed to be in love and how this whole crazy plot came about so they could rebuild their boring marriage. If you have to include sincerity in a wild comedy then you'd better be incredibly smart about it while keeping the satirical edge sharp. If you can't then ditch it. No one's looking to these two for relationship advice or fuzzy cuddles.
Make A Wish Foundation: I want this movie to do well in spite its flaws. And then I want both Fey and Carrell to become powerful big-shot producers and make a film starring themselves and get writers from 30 Rock or The Office to write it, to hire a director they can boss around, and bulldoze it past the studio Suits and into theaters. I could watch them together for a long time. I just want it to be in something worth their talent.