In this cloudy post-Oscar and pre-summer movie phase, Steve Carell and Tina Fey star in a flick that will provide an excellent activity when you and your spouse hire a sitter and go on a….you get the picture. (Bonus: If she enjoys movie-going for Mother’s Day, your mom would like it too, I bet!)
Marriage, as everyone knows, is the absolute worst! Or, at least, that’s what some close friends of Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil Foster (Steve Carell) believe in the Shawn Levy-directed comedy, Date Night. When the Fosters get the inside scoop from their soon-to-be-divorced friends, it turns out that the issues with marriage they cite as divorce-worthy are things that (until now) the Fosters have just shrugged off with a “That’s life!” attitude. Responsibilities and routine have made their friends’ relationship turn into that of two “excellent roommates,” and Claire and Phil are a little rattled.
Feeling the pressure to prove to themselves that their marriage has still got that spark, they dial up their normal neighborhood tavern date night into a more formal and exciting evening in Manhattan. “Exciting” turns into “terrifying” as a series of misunderstandings throw this couple from the ‘burbs into a death-defying adventure!
OK, enough with this book report. Now that anyone who hasn’t seen a trailer for this film has got the premise down, we can move onto The Meat and The Potatoes.
Date Night is a not-too-dry, not-too-slapstick, not-too-genius comedy, featuring considerable comic talents and bit parts so well cast (James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Mark Wahlberg’s pecs) that it makes me think that many of Hollywood’s famous thespians are really at their brightest when enjoyed in small doses. At the heart of the jokes are mostly instances in which the staid Fosters come out of their shell and are forced to act in surprising and uncharacteristic ways. Their interaction with everyone from haughty restaurant employees to powerful crime bosses is self-deprecating yet determined, exactly the kind of humor we’d expect from Fey and Carell.
If the bad guys are a little less than intimidating and the whole effect a little twee, that’s forgivable. It’s a harmless film, and sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood to see, especially when it’s your first time at a movie theater in years, as I’d imagine would be the case for the Fosters.
Ah, now we get to the, uh, starch of the matter! Date Night uses as its comic vehicle some familiar relationship tensions, including, but not limited to “I do all the work around here,” “You have a need to control everything,” and the big gun, “Both of us are tired all the damn time and never get to connect* anymore.”
I’m not familiar with any of those issues, because I was married one spring morning on a rainbow to the king of the unicorns, who presented me with a ring made out of bluebells and fairy dust. I hear, though, that these are things to which you commoners can relate. While Date Night won’t exactly provide you with any gasping marriage breakthroughs, it will infuse you with a warm reminder that with every great responsibility comes a great power (…of security? This inverted Spider-Man reference isn’t working out quite like I wanted.) (I BLAME HOW MUCH WORK I HAVE TO DO AROUND HERE.)
Relationships can be stressful, and a responsible life can get a little boring, but look how nice it is that someone has your back 100% of the time! Now you just need to learn how to communicate, everyone, and, as you’ll see, the best way to do that is in a stolen sports car.
*Interpret as you will. (Not you, Mom.)