Steve Carell, from NBC-TV’s hit series The Office, and 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey work well together in Date Night, a screwball-comedy that quickly morphs into a rather confusing, but still enjoyable pseudo action-thriller replete with car chases, strip clubs and encounters with gun-toting hoodlums and crooked cops.
Fey still manages to look like Sarah Palin, even when she’s not playing her, and Carell comes across as a hapless hubby who feels overshadowed by his wife.
The two play Claire and Phil Foster, a New Jersey couple whose marriage has been dulling down a bit of late. Once a week, they hire a sitter and go out for their “date night”. Frequenting the same restaurant, they scope out couples dining at adjoining tables, and muse on what their story is, displaying both of their improv skills to amusing results.
Dazzled by the sight of his wife in a new frock, Phil is inspired one date night to break with tradition and drive into New York to treat her to an evening at a swank seafood restaurant.
Two toughs hustle the impostors out to the back alley at gunpoint, muttering about ransom notes, and threatening their lives if they don’t produce a mysterious flash-drive.
Claire and Phil are clearly in over their heads by this point, but they brazen it out and dig themselves deeper. What follows is a convoluted plot involving all kinds of nasties. I found it hard to follow, but in retrospect, I don’t think we were really meant to figure it all out, just enjoy the ride.
The juxtaposition of a New Jersey tax accountant and his real-estate agent wife being thrown into a thoroughly improbable series of urban misadventures is what carries the film along, not the chases and the guns.
Mark Wahlberg plays a shirtless ex-Mossad operative with a sexy Hebrew girlfriend who assumes that the Fosters have shown up for a foursome, when they desperately knock at Wahlberg’s door, seeking help out of their dilemma.
Shawn Levy , of the two Night at the Museum movies, directed Date Night, which probably accounts for the car chases and the unremitting, frantic insistence on constant action.
But the real glue that holds it all together is undoubtedly Carrel and Fey. At film’s end, they both emerge as likable — though ordinary — as when it started, with a revitalized respect and admiration for each other, despite having been propelled headlong through a series of highly unlikely events.
Their virtue is that they don’t let their characters become as unhinged and improbable as the film’s plot does.
Be sure to stay for some very funny out-takes after the credits roll.