In Date Night, Steve Carell and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, the prototypical suburban New Jersey couple who, with busy jobs and two kids, feel like they’ve too-easily slipped into the role of great roommates rather than happily marrieds.
Even worse: They’re in a rut and are too exhausted to do anything about it.
So one night, in an attempt to do something different (instead of their weekly dinner at a local restaurant where they always order the same thing), Phil decides to take Claire into New York City and to a hot new restaurant they’ve been wanting to try. Suffice it to say, “date night” doesn’t go as planned after they claim to be another couple at the restaurant.
Soon, the couple get caught in the middle of a case of mistaken identity involving corrupt cops, a mobster, and the District Attorney.
Sounds like a great premise. Alas, Date Night, while it’s charming and fun, is no laugh riot. The film borrows a few cliches from the suburbanites-in-the-big-city playbook (see also: The Out of Towners), and it never reaches the heights of hilarity that you might expect with Fey and Carell as the leads.
That said, those two make a winning couple, and they have great chemistry together.
Date Night, with the exception of a big car chase scene and one in a strip club, never resorts to silly cheeseball comedy that forces our heroes to act in a way that’s inconsistent with who they are (i.e.: responsible adults). And that both helps and hurts the film because without the slapstick, it makes these two and their predicament believable (all things considered) but it sacrifices laughs. I mean, this is a movie where one of the funnier running jokes is how offended people are that Phil and Claire stole someone’s restaurant reservation.
Date Night is peppered with cameos and small roles played by folks like Ray Liotta, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, JB Smoove, and Blair Waldorf herself, Leighton Meester. It’s these folks, and especially Fey and Carell, that really make this film appealing.
But my thinking is that ironically, Date Night is better suited for a night in on the couch, after the kids have been put to bed, rather than one in a movie theater.
I’m giving it a B.