Written by: Josh Klausner
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Mark Wahlberg
Relationships after a while, lose a bit of the fire they had at the beginning. Sure, for some the fire may burn brightly for a long time, but the feeling of uncertainty in the beginning stages of a relationship can never be matched again. Routines being and the perception of the relationship may set in. We’ve seen this portrayed aplenty in popular culture, and Date Night sits near the top as one of the more exciting examples of the comedy existent with this dynamic.
Living a monotonous marriage with a couple of kids, Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil Foster (Steve Carell) have their weekly date night. In an effort to spice things up, Phil takes Claire to a hip new Manhattan restaurant where they tell a little white lie to get a table. This turns into a night of misfortune as their lie gets them into more trouble than they expected.
Putting together two of the funniest comedy figures in Hollywood will yield positive results if given the proper material, which Date Night provides and then some. A simple idea elevated by the intrigue of the circumstances and the wonderful performers on display. The night this couple has would be wild for anyone, but it becomes even more of a shock for a duo who have been numbed by the suburban lifestyle. For a couple who have lost any sort of spontaneity in their sex life, the constant surprises brought upon by this situation certainly shakes them to their core.
As they progress through the night, the stakes continue to rise as the men who initially confronted them may be involved in a larger scheme than it initially appeared. It turns the basic misunderstanding into something they can no longer escape without experiencing a few scrapes. The shock value arrives in the right moments throughout the story but the strength of this movie overall comes from the actors on display.
Tina Fey and Steve Carell bring their comedic strengths in these roles as they portray a fairly dorky couple. They’ve taken on these sorts of characters before, which allows this to be a fairly easy prospect for them as actors. Even with it, they thrive and chew up the scenery with their respective characters. They have the opportunity to goof off and display how awkward all of this turns out to be for these mild-mannered characters. You just have to see the pole-dancing scene to see how unnatural they look in these types of situations. The more awkward, the more comedy comes emanating from it, which Date Night provides with regularity.
The film’s exploration of matrimonial boredom picks at a real nerve for those in long and committed relationships. Routines form, which does not signify anything negative, but for some, it could mean death depending on the social circles. I’ve found myself in a routine in my marriage, but I cannot imagine how refined it would be once I have kids. Their circumstance shows two stable adults who provide for their children but their biggest issue remains their lack of spontaneity. Date Night has some fun with their social life, but in reality, they just needed a bit of excitement. This experience shows them that they are not missing much in this crazy world.
Supporting the two leads are some delightful talents using their reputations to portray impactful characters. We have Taraji P. Henson, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Common, Bill Burr, Gal Gadot, and a host of other comedic actors. Wahlberg shines the brightest in a role made perfectly for his ego, but when he gets in the comedy zone, he excels as an actor. Everyone else contributes positively with their limited screen time as they either assist or continually raise the stakes of the situation happening on this crazy night.
Date Night brings plenty of laughs, some shocking moments, and it all comes together because of the two strong leads pushing this film forward. They take an unoriginal plot idea and add some freshness because it has never been seen utilizing the talents of the great Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Two tremendous performers supported by some strong actors. A delightful and rewatchable film overall, which has a good message running through it.