Saturday, May 29, 2010

Date Night (2010)

It feels a bit surreal getting a babysitter and taking my wife on a date to see a movie about a guy getting a babysitter and taking his wife out on a date. It just made me feel a little self-conscious. It’s a good thing “Date Night” is such a dead funny film.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, married couple in a rut. They get along great, and clearly love each other, but the day to day grind of work, commutes, and kids saps the energy that they once had for each other. They do the same things all the time, and have reached a point where they think they know everything there is to know about each other. What this couple needs is a night of excitement, and boy, do they get it! When they pose as a couple with a reservation in order to get a seat at a fancy Manhattan restaurant, they are mistaken for the targets of a couple of Mob hit-men, and the night takes off from there. Good times ensue all over NYC, including car chases, Tina Fey in a stripper outfit, and Mark Wahlberg without a shirt. Along the way - you guessed it - the Fosters learn some new things about each other and rekindle that old flame.

“Date Night” is fairly formulaic, but executed in a manner that shows why the formula works. It’s a combination of screwball, slapstick, and action comedy that manages to be sweet without being sentimental. Fey and Carell are wonderful at creating comedy that respects the characters. When the Fosters take time out to have a Big Conversation and get some things off their chests, it feels like a real conversation between real people, not trite at all. The movie also benefits from a pretty much all-star cast, including Wahlberg as an impossibly cool security expert, James Franco and Mila Kunis as a cute pair of scumbags, William Fichtner as a politician, and Ray Liotta as a Mobster. “Date Night” isn’t destined to become a classic, but it’s loads of fun and a great date movie.

4 stars out of 5

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