Date Night (2010) dir. Shawn Levy
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Common, William Fichtner
By Alan Bacchus
It’s disposable turnkey Hollywood entertainment, but in terms of the action-comedy genre, Date Night, does not make a wrong turn. Consistently funny and exciting from beginning to end, it was a delight to actually be surprised by a mainstream film these days. As such, Date Night, earns its rather high three and a half star rating.
Claire and Phil Foster (Fey and Carell) are a typical suburban working parents. Living in the New Jersey suburb they commute daily to the ‘big city’ and lie about how it’s 'not that bad’, Since their lives revolves around the kids sex is a perfunctory and thus it takes a conscious date night to create a spark in their lives. Their night out consists of driving into Manhattan and attempting to get into a chic restaurant without a reservation. Having stolen the rezzy from a delinquent couple, the 'Triplehorns' they dine in high style until they're interrupted by a couple of hoods looking for a certain flash drive containing some valuable information.
The mistaken identity results in an often hilarious fish-out-of-water scenario of dull soccer mom and soccer dad battling it out with nasty big city gangsta villains. Steve Carell and Tina Fey fit each of their roles like well worn gloves. It’s not much of a stretch for Fey, but we don’t really want her outside of her comfort zone, that is, the self-effacing middle-aged socially challenged nit wit from 30 Rock. And Steve Carell is the same whip smart but geeky under achiever from his 40-Year Old Virgin roles.
Shawn Levy, taking a break from his Night at The Museum franchise, executes a handful of well choreographed action sequences, the main set piece being a clever car chase involving the Fosters car and a taxicab stuck together. A fun rowboat chase sequence in ‘the Central Park’ also results in some of the funnier sight gags.
Carell and Fey are supported by a number of fine supporting performances. Mark Wahlberg, is deadpan hilarious as a shirtless Israeli security officer who helps the Fosters. James Franco and Mila Kunis also turn in a fantastic scene as the real Triplehorns (and despite a quick reference, no, Jeanne Triplehorn does not make an appearance). The great character actor William Fichtner chews some great scenery as the corrupt city official. He, Fey and Carell cap off the hilarity with a raucous dance sequence, a dual strip tease with Fey as a Eastern European prostitute dressed as whore from the Old West and Carell as her eastern Europeon pimp, which attempts appease the sexually perverted Fichtner.
Unfortunately most of everyone else are weak and clichéd. Oscar nominated Taraji P. Henson’s roles is awful and Common and Jimmy Simpson suffer through underwritten stock bad guy thugs.
As expected in the genre, over the course of the night the couple learns lessons about love, marriage and compromise resulting in some warm fuzzies at the end, but not before taking through a truly entertaining comic joy ride.
"Date Night" is available on Blu-Ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment