A Date Night with The Thin Man

I went into Date Night not expecting that much. I knew (or hoped) that Tina Fey and Steve Carell would make a great comedy pairing. I was concerned, however, that their respective television characters (Liz Lemon and Michael Scott) would outshine their roles in this film. Sometimes that happened; when two actors portray two of the most recognizable characters on television that comparison is impossible to avoid.

I ended up enjoying Date Night, even though it could have been so much more. But what occurred to me midway through the movie was that Phil and Claire Foster are no Nick and Nora Charles.

Date Night is one of the better attempts to update the screwball comedy. But it relies heavily on genre conventions (of other genres that is) to carry out a sort-of funny story. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just completely mesmerized by Myrna Loy (probably a bit of both) but dialogue like “…And will you, for the love of God, put on a f-ing shirt?” just is not funny to me. I’d much rather watch Loy and William Powell banter all day.

No matter what screwball comedy comes next, The Thin Man still does it best. Unless, of course, Fey and Carell pair up again, but for a wittier, sharper, and less contrived movie. Then Nick and Nora might have found their present-day equivalent.

Five Reasons to Watch The Thin Man

the thin man
I’m about to watch The Thin Man. If you have never seen this movie, you are definitely missing out. It is one of the funniest movies you may ever see.

William Powell and Myrna Loy star as Nick and Nora Charles, in the first of this 6 film comedy-mystery series. He’s a former dectective and she’s rich and together they solve mysteries just for fun. And their pet dog Asta is along for the ride. The Thin Man is one of the great slapstick comedies from the 1930’s; the jokes are fast and it is full of pratfalls.

Here are my five reasons to watch The Thin Man:

1. It is wildly popular. The Thin Man is based on a Dashiell Hammett novel and it spawned a radio play where Loy and Powell reprised their roles, a television series, and even a musical.

2. The on screen chemistry between Loy and Powell is irresistible. There is reason why this first film led to more than a few sequels (five to be exact.)

3. The dialogue is some of the best ever written. Just watch this video below and you’ll see what I mean. My favorite line comes from Nora: “Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?”

4. Asta is more than just Loy and Powell’s trusty pet dog. In many ways, Asta was the film’s breakout star.

5. It’s influence can be found everywhere. Every time there is bumbling but hilariously witty detective in a movie or on your television screen, thank Nick Charles.

Updated October 6, 2010