Jen Yamato
Date Night Review

Jen's Rating:


A marriage made in sitcom heaven.

Who's In It: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Common, Jimmi Simpson, Taraji P. Henson, William Fichtner, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Leighton Meester, James Franco, Mila Kunis

The Basics: Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey) are your average suburban couple, so bored and busy with their daily grind -- work, parenting, dinner, book club, sleep -- that their marriage is now a bland, sexless shadow of what it once was. To pull themselves out of Dullsville, the Fosters leave the kids with a sitter (Leighton Meester) for a glamorous night on the town -- but when they innocently take another couple's reservation at a swanky Manhattan eatery, their date night turns into a nightmare of mistaken identity, crooked cops and car chases.

What's The Deal: When you combine the comedic talents of NBC stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, the result had better be some kind of funny -- and thankfully, director Shawn Levy (the man behind the aggressively mediocre Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, and both Night at the Museum flicks) allows both of his leads to do what they do best: namely, make awkward and mundane characters exceedingly hilarious. Despite some odd filmmaking choices that occasionally give Date Night a 21 Jump Street vibe, this briskly paced misadventure coasts blithely by on the charms of Carell and Fey, who both play much more normalized versions of their alter egos from The Office and 30 Rock, respectively. And though Date Night is packed with colorful supporting characters and unrealistic action set pieces, it's Carell and Fey and their sharp, believable characterizations of marital ennui (and reinvigoration) that will truly hit home for all of the bored married couples struggling to keep the spark alive in real life.

Best Supporting Character Whose Nudity Is Also A Plot Point: Mark Wahlberg, as a hunky security specialist (read: high-tech mercenary) that Phil and Claire call for help because Claire was once his estate agent. Wahlberg's constant state of shirtlessness is an actual plot point because Tina Fey totally feels his vibrations. (Yes, I just made a Marky Mark reference.)

The Only People Who Manage To Steal Scenes From Carell and Fey: Believe it or not, James Franco and Mila Kunis. As the lowlife couple whose identities the Fosters accidentally stole, Franco and Kunis let loose with ferociously over-the-top performances rivaled only in Date Night by an insanely, stupidly convoluted high speed car chase involving an Audi R8 stuck grill-to-grill with a NYC taxi cab. Between the powers of Franco/Kunis and that car chase, Franco/Kunis win the crazy contest, but only by a nose.

Lessons Learned From Date Night: Make an effort to keep the passion alive, even if it means being chased around the Big Apple by bad guys like Common (who incidentally deserves better roles than this) and the creepy McPoyle brother from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Hire smokin' hot babysitters who look like Blair from Gossip Girl to make your boring home life more interesting, and get Kristen Wiig to show up, even if only for a cameo (just because). When in doubt in front of a stripper pole, always bust out The Robot. And definitely stay for the bloopers in the end credits.


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