Date Night is what I’d call “dumb-fun-cinema” which, despite how that sounds, actually managed to exceed my expectations. Now available on DVD I hadn’t bothered to see it at the movies, it looked like a predictable slapstick American comedy. But there is something more to Date Night. The storyline – though unbelievable – never turns ludicrous and there is a real connection and friendship visible between the two main actors, Steve Carell and Tina Fay, which brings warmth to the screen.
Steve Carell and Tina Fay play Phil and Claire Foster, an identifiable middle-class busy family. They genuinely love each other and work at their relationship but, after some friends split up because things are just ‘too perfect and familiar’, the Fosters too begin worrying they might be becoming just ‘great roommates’.
So, they take matters in hand. Claire gets all fancied up and Phil takes her to the city for their date night, breaking the regular local steakhouse routine. When they can’t get a table it looks like their efforts at romance are wasted until Phil decides to solve things by taking someone’s reservation. Bad move. What ensues is a classic comedy of mistaken identity as the couple are chased by gangsters, bad cops and good cops and aided by stolen cars and retail clients.
It’s not the plot though that brings the laughs; it’s the real comic skill of Carell and Fay and the innocent ramblings of their characters in tense moments. While dealing with the real criminals whose reservation (and therefore identity) they stole, Phil – a middle class father trained out of bad language – struggles for anything more threatening to say then “shut your face”.
It is disappointing though that the Director, Shawn Levy (of ‘Night at the Museum’, ‘The Pink Panther’ and ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’) and writer Josh Klausner, thought it necessary to add in lewd sexual jokes (which don’t get the laughs). In my opinion, these push Date Night into being an adults only movie (I’m surprised to see it only carries an M). This otherwise could have been dumb-fun-cinema the whole family could watch – a movie which celebrates normal life and long lasting family love.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Taraji P. Henson
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Written by: Josh Klausner