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by Meg Grant, April 9, 2010
Date Night (PG-13)
From Shawn Levy, the director of the Night at the Museum films, comes a funny and thrilling romp which, as with his other movies, features his signature mash-up of hilarity and somewhat predictable action. But it's his casting of comic geniuses Tina Fey and Steve Carell that makes Date Night stand out.
They star as Phil and Claire Foster, a suburban New Jersey couple enduring the chaotic exhaustion that colors the lives of any dual-income couple (he's a tax accountant, she's a real estate agent) raising a couple of toddlers. Theirs are the typical "not-tonight" excuses, offered while applying snore bands and night guards, and the ritual once-a-week night out at the local tavern, during which carpools and birthday presents are the main topic of conversation.
For Phil and Claire, middle-aged married life couldn't get any more mundane. Then Phil learns that the couple's good friends are splitting because they've gotten bored with each other—so he decides to spice up his weekly rendezvous with Claire by taking her to the hottest new restaurant in Manhattan for a night on the town. Unfortunately, he fails to make a reservation. Rather than wait, when he notices that a couple named the Tripplehorns are no-shows, he and Claire assume their identity to get their table.
The real Tripplehorns, it turns out, are involved in a blackmail scam with a local mobster (Ray Liotta, of course). Before they've ordered dessert, the imposters find themselves escorted out of the restaurant by a couple of gun-wielding corrupt cops (Common and Jimmi Simpson). From there, the Fosters' date night involves shootouts, car chases, and even pole dancing. Along the way, the couple run into an assortment of entertaining characters, most notably a hysterical cab driver (J. B. Smoove) and a former client of Claire's—a buff security expert played ingeniously by Mark Wahlberg.
As real-life parents of young children, Fey and Carell, the stars of 30 Rock and The Office, respectively, clearly know their Date Night characters intimately. Based on the outtakes at the end of the movie, many of their one-liners were improvised—springing, no doubt, from their very own married home lives. Imagine being a fly on the wall in either the Fey or Carrell household for a night. How fun would that be? For the next best entertainment option, make a date night of Date Night.
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