Review: Date Night (2010)
Date Night is a pretty gentle, amiable comedy of errors along the lines of After Hours or The Hangover, which allows stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey to show off their subtle senses of humor for some big and not-so-big laughs. They have some real charisma and chemistry together which is quite watchable and entertaining.
Fey and Carell play a married couple, Phil and Claire Foster, who begin to wonder, prompted by the breakup of another married couple they see regularly, whether or not they've fallen into a rut in their marriage. They both work, he as a tax attorney, she as a real estate agent, and they have two children who take up a lot of whatever time's left over. Sometimes they forget it's their weekly date night until the babysitter shows up. (Still, smart move scheduling the babysitter weekly ahead of time.)
One date night when Claire dresses up and Phil arrives home looking beat, they decide to venture out of their New Jersey town to the Big Apple, hoping to arrive early at a tony restaurant they heard about and get in without a reservation. When this proves impossible, Phil makes the fateful decision to claim a reservation for "The Tripplehorns."
Dinner's great until two thugs show up looking for the "real" Tripplehorns, and drag them to the back alley for a conference about a missing flash drive. The Fosters proclaim their innocence as long as it seems advisable, then pretend to go along with their captors in hopes of finding an escape if they can stall for time.
The rest of the plot flows, of course, from this initial misunderstanding, and balloons. There follow breaking and entering, gunplay, spy legerdemain, car chases, gangsters, shady cops, blackmailing babysitters, and other assorted misfires and screw-ups. It's pretty fun, and even has an air of realism which aids the suspension of disbelief for some of the more outrageous incidents. It's all excuses for Fey and Carell to wisecrack and lose their minds.
There are some very good cameos by, notably, William Fichtner, Mark Wahlberg as James Bond Underwear Model, James Franco, Mila Kunis (basically reprising her role from last year's Extract), Taraji P. Henson, J.B. Smoove and Jimmi Simpson (Lyle the Intern from "The Late Show with David Letterman"). Ray Liotta and Kristen Wiig also appear briefly.
Let's see, it's not quite as good as either of the aforementioned After Hours or The Hangover, though it has a similar feeling as each. It's not as good as Tina Fey's Mean Girls, but it's probably better than Evan Almighty or Get Smart. I'd compare it to "30 Rock" or "The Office," but I've only ever seen a few partial episodes of either. I may be saving them for later. Date Night does fit well with the comedic personas of Fey and Carell. They're credible and work well together.
There are some genuinely funny outtakes at the beginning of the credits, so don't jump up too quick. They reveal a bit about the hard work that went into crafting the dialogue into the tasty, well-edited scenes which came before.
Date Night is a warm, funny, slow burn of a movie. It doesn't pop a lot, it's quieter than that, but the laughs are organic and have a nice rhythm. Lots of what's funny is pure attitude, just seeing Carell and Fey play off of one another and their wacky circumstances. It's sly.
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