Date Night, Shawn Levy, 88 mins, (15)
The Joneses, Derrick Borte, 98 mins, (15)
Extract, Mike Judge, 92 mins, (15)

Status anxieties? Stale sex? This could be the perfect date movie

There are three American comedies this week which play with the status anxieties of white, suburban, middle-class, middle-aged couples.

Indeed, if you see all three films within two days, as I did, it's not easy to remember which is which: two of them feature Mila Kunis and Kristen Wiig, two of them spotlight the same high-end sportscar – a good day at the office for whichever product placement executive had that account.

Best of the bunch is Date Night, which pairs up Steve Carell and Tina Fey as a white, suburban, etc couple. Their marriage is a happy one, but it's so focused on their careers and their children that romance has dwindled to a half-asleep meal in a half-asleep steakhouse every Friday. In order to inject some oomph into their relationship, they go to an exclusive Manhattan restaurant, which leads, via a North by Northwest-inspired case of mistaken identity, to their being plonked into the middle of a blackmail scheme.

It's a reasonable fish-out-of-water set-up, so it's a pity that neither the danger they get into, nor the way they get out of it, has much to do with their characters. The screenwriter chucks together the same gangsters and corrupt cops that have been the staple of every action-comedy since the 1980s, and by the time we come to the obligatory tyre-screeching car chase, it's all getting a bit tiresome.

But the entertainment is still efficient enough for Date Night to be recommended for an actual date night. As rote as the thriller plotting may be, the perfectly matched Carell and Fey puncture it skilfully with some sharp jokes about marital familiarity, and about the fact that they're much too square for the adventure they find themselves in. We're 10 minutes into an urgent search for a missing flash drive before Fey admits that she doesn't know what a flash drive is. "In the office, we call it a computer stick thingy!"

In The Joneses, it's the neighbours' marriage that doesn't have the spark it used to – a deficiency which is thrown into relief by living next door to the loved-up Demi Moore and David Duchovny and their two picture-perfect teenagers. But if Moore & Co look as if they've stepped out of a catalogue, well, that's not far from the truth. They aren't a bona fide family at all, but actors paid by a stealth marketing firm to move into an affluent neighbourhood and show off a range of expensive products to the desperate housewives and husbands who live nearby.

It's a terrific concept – so terrific, in fact, that you'll wish the film had explored it further. The writer-director has made a sly commentary on today's ultra-consumerism that's always watchable and often very funny, but it's ultimately content to be a lackadaisical, loosely plotted indie comedy when it could have been either an excoriating satire or a full-on Jim Carrey-ish farce. Even when the film is at its most heightened, you're left with the suspicion that marketing tactics in the real world are much more Machiavellian.

Extract is even mellower. It stars Jason Bateman as a man who's bored both by his work as the owner of a food-flavouring plant, and by his sexless marriage to Kristen Wiig. An enticing young temp, Mila Kunis, looks as if she might provide the excitement his life is missing, especially if Bateman follows the highly questionable advice of his bar-tending buddy, Ben Affleck.

Written and directed by Mike Judge, the creator of King of the Hill and Beavis & Butt-Head, Extract meanders along amiably enough, prompting snorts of laughter here and there. But it's so digressive that it seems as if Judge filmed a pile of sub plots and forgot about the plot that was supposed to go with them.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees The Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement in Gentlemen Broncos, from the director of Napoleon Dynamite

Also Showing: 25/04/2010

Agora (128 mins, 12A)

Agora could well be this year's only Spanish epic about a 4th-century Alexandrian philosopher (Rachel Weisz) whose astronomy studies are threatened by Christian extremists. And maybe that's for the best. Commendable as its intentions may be, it simply has too many plot strands, themes, and European accents to fit into one film. Alejandro Amenábar (The Others, The Sea Inside) should have either edited out half the story or expanded it into an HBO mini-series.

Centurion (97 mins, 15)

Neil Marshall's blood-drenched action movie rips off/pays homage to the chase sequence in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but instead of bank robbers pursued by mercenaries, the heroes are a rag-tag band of Roman soldiers (Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, David Morrissey) being hunted through the forests of Caledonia by Picts. Scissor-happy editing has reduced Centurion to a succession of scenic helicopter shots, interlarded with montages of swords hacking through flesh.

It's a Wonderful Afterlife (100 mins, 12)

Gurinda Chadha's pointless melange of romance, ghosts, and curry-related serial-killing has an unfunny, shambolic and amateurish execution. You cringe for everyone involved.

Cherry Bomb (86 mins, 15)

Turgid Northern Irish teen drama co-starring Rupert "Ron Weasley" Grint as one of two obnoxious friends competing for the same obnoxious girl.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower