Review: 'Date Night'

Review: ‘Date Night’

I had a great time at Date Night. You would be hard pressed to find more likable leads than Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, who have great chemistry together as boring New Jersey couple Claire and Phil Foster. Stuck in a serious domestic rut that many of you will recognize all too well, the two decide to shake up their usual date night of frequenting the same restaurant and ordering the same dishes on the same night every week.

They get dolled up and head to Manhattan to the über trendy seafood restaurant, “Claws.”  A rude host scoffs at their hopes for getting a table, and the two head to the bar.  Just as they are getting ready to leave, another hostess goes through the bar, calling out for “Tripplehorn, party of two.”

Phil decides to seize the moment and do something spontaneous for once in his life, and he says that they are the Tripplehorns. The two enjoy a fancy dinner with wine, delight over a Will.i am celebrity sighting and make fun of stuffy restaurant patrons.

They are approached by two strange men who approach the table and tell the couple that they have something to discuss with them.  Outside the restaurant, Claire and Phil immediately discover that the real Tripplehorns are messed up with some bad people, and those bad people want a flash drive that belongs to them back.  Guns are drawn, and the Fosters try to explain that it’s a case of mistaken identity, but the thugs don’t believe them, and the Fosters have to improvise their way out of the predicament.

There are a few tired movie clichés;  the bad guys are actually cops, there is a crooked city leader, inept civilians are able to outwit the professionals, but I still found the movie immensely likable. Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen) keeps the movie lively for the entire running time.  Every time I was sure the movie was going to nosedive, it picked right up, and I found it consistently funny.

God bless Tina Fey for donning a stripper outfit and shaking her money maker. Gold, Tina, gold. In addition to Fey and Carrell, there is a terrific supporting cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, Leighton Meester, William Fichtner, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Ray Liotta,  James Franco and Mila Kunis.

Mark Wahlberg, in particular, had me in stitches.  As an inside reference to his former career as a Calvin Klein underwear model, his character (who is a special ops security expert) walks around for the entire movie shirtless, flexing his chiseled physique, much to Phil’s chagrin.  Also terrifically funny are Franco and Kunis, who play the couple who originally made the “Tripplehorn” reservation. He goes by the name “Taste,” she by “Whippet,” and they are great as a bottom dwelling white trash couple.

The movie is sweet without being overly so, as the wild escapades of the evening cause Claire and Phil to rediscover why they fell in love in the first place. Their scenes of domestic boredom and banality ring true. Their kids wake them up for breakfast at 4:57 am, they have an order and routine to their lives that is stifling their spontaneity, and they both juggle busy careers with family.

Consequently, sleep is their highest priority. How do you have kids today and not relate to that?

I think that almost anybody with an intact sense of humor will enjoy this movie, but in particular couples with kids.  It is the perfect escape. It’s not rocket science, it’s just Date Night. Go enjoy it.