On The Big Screen: Date Night

I’ll admit it, I really was not expecting much from Date Night, written by Josh Klausner and directed by Shawn Levy. The trailer looked like a bizarre cross between “The Office” and Get Smart. Steve Carell is a very funny guy, but he is notoriously inconsistent. I mean really, Evan Almighty? This time though, he really shines. Tina Fey is smart, funny, and beautiful, and together they have amazing comedic chemistry.

The film centers on a married couple living in suburban New Jersey that have become tired of their meaningless daily routine and a relationship that has lost its newlywed glow. After learning that two of their friends have recently split up, Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey) begin to worry that their marriage is headed down a similar track. In an attempt to bring back some of the life in their relationship, Phil decides to spice up their regular Saturday Date Night and take his wife out to dinner in the city. The plan derails when they can’t find a table at the Claw, one of the most expensive and high class restaurants in New York. Desperate to make the night something special, Phil takes the reservation of the Triplehorns, a no-show couple. Unfortunately, the so-called Triplehorns are the owners of a mysterious flash drive and have connections to an Italian mobster, Joe Miletto, who has sent two of his men to the restaurant looking for them. The Fosters, mistaken for the Triplehorns, are drawn into the whole mess, their innocent date plans turned upside-down.

The believability of the story breaks down here. If you are looking for a movie with a sophisticated plot, this is not it. It consists mostly of Fey and Carell running around like beheaded chickens and stereotypically ridiculous Hollywood action sequences. Claire’s former real-estate client Holbrooke, played by Mark Wahlberg, just happens to have a computer with spy-like tracking technology along with several shiny sports cars. If the cast had been different, this movie would have been a complete flop.

Fey and Carell really made the show for me. They did not take themselves too seriously, and their humor was sharp and well-timed. James Franco and Mila Kunis were also funny as Taste and Whippit, the “real” Triplehorns. I also like how the movie sometimes pokes fun at itself and the stereotypes it upholds. For example, Carell straight up tells Holbrooke—who represents the typical macho, James Bond character—to put on a shirt. There were some surprisingly honest moments too, as the Fosters reflected upon the struggles in their relationship, which had lost its satisfaction for the both of them. If you ignore the crazy car chase scene and the strip club, there is actually some merit here.

Clearly, the film was geared towards a somewhat older crowd, who could really relate to the sentiments about married life. I still found it enjoyable though. I’m not sure it was worth the money to see in theaters since, frankly, the action scenes were not that spell-binding, but it’s definitely worth seeing on video. Overall, a fun, light-hearted movie.

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