Tina Fey and Steve Carell make Date Night a better-than-average screwball comedy. Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen) directs the master comedians.
Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a nice New Jersey couple yearning for a date night. Phil is a CPA, and Claire is a real estate agent.
The evening begins
The Fosters work hard, love their children, and stick to their routines. Excitement is the one thing their marriage lacks. They hire a babysitter.
As Claire dresses up, Phil is inspired to bring her to Claw, the trendy new Manhattan seafood restaurant. As Claire predicted and the snooty maitre’d makes clear, it is impossible to get a table without a reservation. Then Phil gets inspired.
It’s a case of mistaken identity gone terribly wrong as they impersonate a no-show couple, the Tripplehorns. The Fosters are seated and almost finish a divine meal, when a pair of goons (Common, Jimmi Simpson) approaches.
Feeling guilty, they step outside into a back alley, only to be held at gunpoint for a flash drive that the Tripplehorns have stolen from a mobster (the fantastic Ray Liotta).
The chase begins
Uproarious dialogue and perfectly executed gags reveal comic genius. Levy keeps the action moving through chase scenes on foot and in vehicles. With smart screenwriting by Josh Klausner, each scene builds upon the next.
Some of the funniest moments occur when the harried couple pester a hunky security expert, Claire’s former client Holbrooke (Mark Wahlberg). Playing straight man to the bedraggled couple, he good-naturedly accommodates their interruptions while his hot Israeli girlfriend awaits.
Meeting the Tripplehorns
Finally the Fosters meet the real Tripplehorns (crazy-in-love criminals James Franco and Mila Kunis). Other high points include their strip club dance to entertain the wayward DA (William Fichtner).
Taraji Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Detective Arroyo does her best to help the hapless couple. Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig appear briefly as the Foster’s best friends on the brink of divorce.
Date Night’s end credits are a must see with some very funny outtakes.
Two comic careers
Both Fey and Carell studied at legendary Second City in Chicago. Fey has won Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. After becoming the first female head writer for Saturday Night Live, she joined the cast. Later she created the hit show 30 Rock in which she plays a head writer.
Carell (Bruce Almighty; The 40 Year Old Virgin) is a Golden Globe winner for his starring role in The Office. He played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched (2005), Uncle Frank in Little Miss Sunshine, and Maxwell Smart in Get Smart (2009). Carell taught at Second City. (4 out of 5 stars)
If you like Date Night, you might enjoy: The Joneses; City Island.
Date Night / 2010 / PG-13 / 1 hr, 28 min
Cast Overview: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Leighton Meester, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, William Fichtner, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Ray Liotta
Director: Shawn Levy
Genres: Comedy, Romantic Comedy