Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Date Night


Review by Patrick Hodges

If you’re a fan of The Office and 30 Rock, then you’re probably a fan of Steve Carell and Tina Fey.  These two comedic artists are arguably the funniest man and woman working in the biz today, and to see them together on screen was just too tantalizing to ignore.  Going in to the theater, I expected a lot of laughs with some comic action thrown in.

Carell and Fey play suburbanites Phil and Claire Foster, a married New Jersey couple with two small children whose lives consist of routine, routine and more routine.  Too exhausted at the end of the day to even be intimate, their sole recreation comes from weekly “date nights”, consisting of dinner and a movie, but those, too, have become routine.  And when two of their friends (Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) announce they are divorcing because their marriage has become stale, Phil decides to change things up a bit.

An attempt to get a table at a snooty Manhattan seafood restaurant without a reservation seems doomed to failure… that is, until the Foster steal one belonging to a couple of no-shows.  Things get worse when a pair of thugs (Jimmie Simpson and Common) mistake the Fosters for the no-shows, who apparently are in possession of a computer flash drive that belongs to a local mob boss (Ray Liotta).

What follows is a night of running around, car chases, you name it, as the Fosters attempt to extricate themselves from their predicament, which includes a visit to the no-show couple (played deliciously by James Franco and Mila Kunis), two stoners whose relationship eerily parallels that of the Fosters’.  Also in the mix is a former client of Claire’s (played by a buff, shirtless Mark Wahlberg), an ex-military type who possesses a fair amount of technical knowhow, but is really just there to make Phil incredibly uncomfortable.

I won’t lie to you – this film threatened several time to ride right off the rails, but it is because of Carell and Fey that it doesn’t.  Anyone who has been married a while will recognize a little bit of themselves in the (somewhat stereotypical) Fosters, who want nothing more than to spice up their dull lives, even for only a short time.  Granted, a night of danger, car chases, gunplay and a visit to a strip joint (not one of the better scenes) may indeed be a cure for boredom, but I don’t think I’d want to embark on such a night myself.  Watching Steve and Tina do it, however, was incredibly funny.

On the whole, there are worse ways to spend ninety minutes than watching Date Night… even if you’re with a date.  And make sure you stay for the hilarious outtakes that roll with the closing credits, they are some of the funniest bits of the whole film.

3 ½ / 5 stars

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