Ah, date night. That one magical evening for married and long-term couples alike. When the doldrums of routine can be temporarily ignored for a few blissful moments of uninterrupted couplehood. A wondrous time when the soul-crushing drudgery of…well, you get the idea.
The Fosters, played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey, are in a bit of a rut in their marriage. Between work and kids, they barely have enough energy to do much of anything – least of all, each other. Even their date night has become routine and predictable.
To mix things up, they decide on a glamorous night out at a posh restaurant in New York. But lacking reservations, they’ve got no chance at getting in. Fed up with waiting, and desperate for the night out they deserve, they do what any couple would do in their position: pretend to be someone else and steal their reservation.
Unfortunately, the table-nabbing results in a case of mistaken identity which leads to criminals, shoot outs, car chases, explosions and all sorts of other things I’m sure they’d deal with all over again – I mean, it was a really nice restaurant.
Let’s be honest: if you’ve seen the trailer for this film, it sort of comes off as something best left to rot in movie theatre purgatory. Between the punch lines that fall flat and the Nickelback soundtrack, I had pretty low expectations walking in, despite the amount of talent involved. Imagine my surprise when I left the theatre with a huge smile on my face.
Date Night is a fun, light night out with two equally charming people. Carell and Fey are loaded with fantastic chemistry and quips galore. The dialogue is funny, but a lot of the humour is situational, and derived from the simple fact that they are a believably boring, suburban couple doing stunts usually reserved for secret agents – an aspect the film playfully hams up again and again.
The plot is pretty basic, is loaded with holes, and threatens to fall apart at any moment, but that hardly seems to matter anytime the leads are on screen. These two carry the whole film on their backs with their collective charm and we’re happy to watch them do it. It’s a safe bet that Date Night would have been absolute hell to sit through if casting went with anyone else, but the combination of Fey/Carell is fantastic to watch and transforms a mediocre film into something fun.
The cast is fleshed out by cameos from Mark Wahlberg, Will.i.am, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, and on, and on. Every scene there’s a new actor you recognize, but that’s all part of the lightness of the movie – they come in, you say, “heeeeey I know them”, and then they disappear.
Will Date Night be a box office juggernaut? Good god no. But for the film’s target audience of couples on their own respective date nights, the movie will surely satisfy.