PictureDate Night comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray with a marginally disappointing 1080p High Definition video presentation, in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. Shot in HD, it is another example of an HD-filmed movie which just does not hold up as well as would be expected – and certainly not as good as a medium budget mainstream Hollywood comedy starring Steve Carell should look. The detail level is strained for the most part, and only lapses into distinct HD clarity occasionally. Softness is a pressing issue, the film appears to have more than its fair share of noise, and there is a problem with blooming which may give you the impression that things are even hazier (i.e. grainier) than they should be. It’s really odd – some of the fake car interior shots (i.e. the green-screen work) conversely showcases too little grain: the picture then taking on an overly DNR’d look, with the leads looking almost plastic in skin texture.
The colour scheme is broad and many of the tones are presented in a rich and palatable fashion, but some appear a little out of control, the whites blazing out too bright, and the black levels not being as strong as they should be (damaged by the aforementioned noise) – which is made more noticeable from the fact that the narrative largely takes place at night. It’s a problematic video presentation – at best – although, since you probably don’t watch a Steve Carell comedy for the visuals, you can just about get away with it here. But for those who are used to being able to practically freeze-frame their Blu-ray movies to get wallpaper-quality stills, this is just about as far from that as you can get. If it were a catalogue title, viewers would be surprised that the Studios did not clean up the image more, but for a brand new release, it’s simply shocking that the video is this distracting.
SoundOn the aural front we get a much easier to assess DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that does what it’s told, and does it reasonably well. The witty, snappy dialogue – and the many voices of Steve Carell – come across clearly and coherently throughout, mainly emanating from the frontal array. There are quite a few effects, as this is a fairly eventful comedy romp, and we get everything from gunshots to car chases to helicopters overhead, all with enough bustle and punch to provide both the surrounds and the LFE channel with something to do. It’s not an atmospheric, vibrant mix, but it gets the job done. The soundtrack is also perfectly suited to the material, although not particularly worthy of note in its own right, and gives the surrounds yet more to do. There was only one scene where the bass really took over – that’s the strip club sequence towards the end – and overall this is a solid enough aural representation. Nothing special, but nothing to complain about either.
ExtrasThere are a fair few extra features on the disc – although they are marginally less than what you would expect from even a comedy offering (with no Commentary or Picture-in-Picture options, or even a Trivia Track). They are also very unusual in that the Director, Shawn Levy, has presented them in Robert Rodriguez-overload style, i.e. with far too much gusto. He gets excited to the point of being just plain irritating (particularly when introducing the Camera Tests) and his manner is abrasively over-enthusiastic throughout the extra material.
The Directing 301, Disaster Dates and Directing Off-Camera Featurettes all have this trait to them, and it makes them quite tiresome to watch. Perhaps if you were massively interested in filmmaking, the Director’s energy and information would be of interest, but I still find Rodriguez the go-to guy for this, and Levy just comes across as a poor alternative. Still, for fans of the film, you get all the requisite material on offer here – Directing 301 taking 20 minutes to show you a day on the set with the Director, Disaster Dates offering up the actors talking (for less than 5 minutes) about their worst dates, and Directing Off-Camera is just 3 minutes of the Director shouting at the stars whilst shooting the film. Irritating. Oh, and there’s the Steve Carell and Tina Fey Camera Tests, which the Director aggrandises to such an extent that it comes across as a total anticlimax. These are not Screen Tests, this is just a damn photo shoot. And a boring one at that.
There are several Deleted and Extended Scenes included, totalling 16 minutes of extra material. The Deleted Scenes were largely deleted for a reason, and the Extended Scenes are neither worse nor particularly better than the ones included in the final cut. Still, I think they should have considered leaving in a bit of the parking-the-car scene (which looked like it had been ripped jarringly out of the final cut) and fans will probably want to check out that (the first Deleted Scene).
Alt City gives us 2 minutes of alternate takes, which basically all relate to the restaurant-mocking scene. Unfortunately the outtakes at the end of the film covered all of the bases here and there really is no need to bother with this bit. And the Gag Reel really is not as funny as it should have been, basically consisting of the actors being unable to keep themselves from cracking up.
Finally we get a Theatrical Trailer, and there is also a pointless Digital Copy included in the package.
VerdictDate Night brings together two extremely popular US comedians for a rather strange mish-mash of Mr & Mrs Smith and North by NorthWest, obviously done with a very comedic slant. The end result, unfortunately, is a bit hit-and-miss, a mildly amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, but ultimately quite forgettable bit of frivolity that certainly does not stand up amidst some of the better comedies that we have had over the last few years. On Region Free UK Blu-ray the package does not include either the alternative Theatrical Cut (although we do get the longer Extended Edition) nor does it have the Audio Commentary from the US edition, and I have no idea why they missed out on porting everything across. Worse still, we get the same surprisingly poor video (at least for a brand new movie), with only the average audio failing to get much criticism. Fans of the film will probably want to look towards getting the more comprehensive US edition instead, or even holding out until somebody considers remastering the video (although that will probably never happen). Newcomers who are fond of Steve Carell or Tina Fey would probably get a fair amount of enjoyment out of this, as long as they don’t set their expectations too high. At least it’s nice to see Carell step out of The Office for a bit. Overall it’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a particularly memorable one either. Rent before you buy.
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