A comedy that feeds off the boundless energy of its stars, Date Night manages to be funny and engaging while maintaining its human centre.
The Fosters, Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey), are married with children, living in New Jersey, and navigating the unadventurous terrain of family life. Looking to liven up an evening by heading to a swanky New York restaurant without a reservation, they impersonate another couple, the Tripplehorns, to get a table, triggering a madcap adventure.
It turns out that the Tripplehorns are embroiled in a blackmail scheme that involves New York's leading mobster, apparent police corruption, and the District Attorney's office. The Fosters are soon being chased and threatened all over town as they try to figure out what is going on and how to stop it.
Date Night works, for the most part, thanks to Steve Carell and especially Tina Fey. They establish an early and believable rapport with each other, and their likability and natural talent for humor drives the films through its rougher spots. A lot of the dialogue appears to be at least partially ad-libbed, and with talent like Carell and Fey letting loose, this is a good thing.
The supporting cast, including Mark Wahlberg, James Franco and Ray Liotta, play their parts appropriately straight, to provide relief for Carrel and Fey's comedy.
The film is full of bright touches and pleasant surprises, including an unexpectedly innovative variation to the movie car chase scene. But unfortunately there is no escaping the over-the-top, just-in-time Hollywood climax with all threads neatly tied up.
Date Night playfully delivers an important message to married couples settled into a staid suburban routine: be thankful for the bliss of a calm life.
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