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Branson Family Trip

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Reviewed on 2010-04-10
Received[2]  out of 4 stars
GenreAction / Comedy / Romance
The onscreen pairing of Tina Fey (“30 Rock” and “Baby Mama”) and Steve Carell (“The Office” and “Get Smart”) appears to be a match made in TV sitcom heaven. They play Claire and Phil Foster, a bored suburban New Jersey married couple whose weekly night out at a local steakhouse is a poor substitute for romance and intimacy.

A promising opening sequence shows the daily routine of waking up at 5 a.m. when their two young kids barge into their bedroom and start jumping on the bed.

Claire is a real estate agent and Phil is a tax lawyer. They struggle to keep their relationship fresh while balancing career demands with raising a family.

Phil decides to spice things up on a Friday evening by going into Manhattan for dinner at a trendy upscale eatery. The restaurant is super busy and most diners make reservations a month in advance. The Fosters are treated rudely by the maitre d’.

While hanging out at the bar, Phil makes a spontaneous decision to claim a table-for-two for the no-show Tripplehorns. Their stealing someone else’s reservation becomes a running gag throughout the movie. Their bad luck begins when they toast with empty glasses.

The main storyline is built around the mistaken identity notion. The real Tripplehorns (an alias for two heavily tattooed bohemians living on the wild side) are blackmailing the district attorney with a computer flash drive containing sexually explicit photos.

Two crooked cops acting like gun-toting thugs take the Fosters into the alley and demand the return of the flash drive. They moonlight for a Mafia boss who has the tough-on-crime district attorney under his thumb. The Fosters manage to escape the clutches of the goons. A wacky car chase and shootout follow.

The Fosters are aided by Grant Holbrooke (Mark Wahlberg from “The Lovely Bones” and “Boogie Nights”), a high-tech security consultant and bachelor playboy. Claire previously showed this bare-chested hunk some houses in the burbs. It is intimated that she has dreamy erotic fantasies about him. Another running gag is that Phil continually asks Holbrooke to put a shirt on to cover his muscular torso.

The loose ends of this escapist adventure are tied up a little too neatly with a SWAT team and a police helicopter. Fey and Carell make a gallant effort to elevate the mundane material with a string of funny one-liners and a hilarious sex robots pole dancing routine.

Despite an economical running time of 88 minutes, this extended “Saturday Night Live” sketch suffers from uneven pacing and wears out its welcome by running out of gas. The use of a handheld high definition video camera is a distraction and cheapens the look of the picture.

The blooper outtakes over the end credits are funnier than the entire movie. The standout cameo belongs to J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) playing a bewildered cab driver whose front bumper gets attached to the vehicle driven by the Fosters. The supporting cast in throwaway roles includes Mark Ruffalo, Ray Liotta, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, Taraji P. Henson and rapper Common.

This colossal waste of time and talent was directed by Shawn Levy (the two “Night at the Museum” movies) and written by Josh Klausner (the upcoming “Shrek Forever After”).

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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