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Date Night (2010)

A 2010 comedy movie directed by Shawn Levy.

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Never Take Someone Else's Reservation

  • Apr 9, 2010
I cannot think of a better pairing than Steve Carell and Tina Fey, not only because they're funny, not only because they're gifted at improvisation, but also because they possess an actor's sense of timing. Comedy is not only about letting loose physically and verbally; it's also about knowing when to hold back. Carell and Fey get this, and they put it to good use in "Date Night"; when they're not engaging in over the top sequences that merge summer action with slapstick, then they're taking part in quiet moments of surprising insight and tenderness. Regardless of the situation they find themselves in, they're consistently convincing, both as individuals and as a married couple. I responded more to them than to the relentlessly screwball plot, a cross between a crime caper and a "Saturday Night Live" sketch.

Carell and Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a suburban New Jersey couple who find themselves in a domestic rut so deep, they're no longer satisfied with their weekly date nights at a local steakhouse. Hoping to shake up the routine, Phil takes Claire to a trendy seafood restaurant in Manhattan, only to find out that no one without a reservation made months in advance is likely to be served. A reservation for Tripplehorn, party of two, goes unclaimed, giving Phil and Claire the opportunity to have dinner in their place.

What seemed like a good idea at the time quickly becomes a nightmarish case of mistaken identity, the Fosters unwittingly drawn into a plot involving two corrupt police officers (Common and Jimmi Simpson), a ruthless mob boss (Ray Liotta), Manhattan's District Attorney (William Fitchner), and an elusive memory stick containing sensitive data. What exactly have the Tripplehorns gotten themselves into? And how can the Fosters get themselves out of it?

Claire, a real estate agent, appeals to one of her clients, who she remembers as being an expert in homeland security. Here enters Holbrook Grant (Mark Wahlberg), who lives in a luxurious apartment, has high tech equipment in his office, and never, ever wears a shirt. How exactly does he help the Fosters? What does it matter? All anyone notices is that he never, ever wears a shirt. This is a direct hit on Phil's ego. I can't say I blame him -- one look at Mark Wahlberg, and my self esteem plummets faster than a lead weight.

As the Fosters run for their lives on the streets of New York City, they find themselves trying to assess the state of their marriage, which, like so many real life marriages, is hampered by work, children, and a lack of intimacy. What could have easily been an opportunity for desperate jokiness is instead an amusing yet honest opportunity for character development; when Phil and Claire fight, we really do believe they're fighting, not only because of their style of delivery but also because they're making valid points. We may laugh at their quirks, such as their tendency to look at dining couples and manufacture a conversation, but we still believe them as ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. We also believe it when they make it clear that, despite a domestic lull, they truly do love each other.

Perhaps I'm flawed in that I found this aspect of "Date Night" more appealing than its sense of humor. There are a number of highly comedic scenes, although most felt incredibly forced. Consider, for instance, a sequence in which Phil and Claire must perform a pole dance; the circumstances surrounding this moment seem solid enough, but the dance itself is so obvious that it might as well be paired with subtitles reading, "This is funny because they have no idea how to pole dance." Also consider a car chase near the end of the film; excitement gives way to silliness when the Fosters plow directly into the front end of a cab, joining the two vehicles together. I grant you that this makes the idea less routine. Nevertheless, I have a feeling it would have been just as funny if only one car had been involved.

The director is Shawn Levy, whose recent filmography -- the 2006 remake of "The Pink Panther" and both "Night at the Museums" -- has mired him in mediocrity. "Date Night" is a definite improvement, although I think it has more to do with casting than with plot. Steve Carell and Tina Fey just work well together. I would be neither surprised nor displeased if they were paired in future films, even if all of them turn out to be comedies. Given their quieter moments in this film, however, and given Carell's successful turn in the wonderful "Little Miss Sunshine," we should not rule out the possibility of dramatic roles. If we've learned anything from Carol Burnett, it's that sometimes, even the funniest people can break our hearts.

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More Date Night (2010 movie) reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Sometimes a good movie is all we need. ‘Date Night' isn't a great film, and maybe it doesn't try to be one, but we all know there are times when only a good film is our best diversion.      It's hard to decide at first if ‘Date Night' is a comedy or adventure, so once we get our bearings--at least for me I found a few surprises--we can settle on comedy adventure as the alleged genre.      Small screen protagonists, Steve Carrell …
Quick Tip by . November 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Surprisingly hilarious. I'm not usually a fan of American comedies (too formulaic), but this film was great and it's all due to the comedic chemistry between Tina Fey and Steve Carell.
review by . November 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
 ** out of ****      “Date Night” has too much on its hands. It tries desperately to be some sort of action-comedy-romance thing, and in doing so can’t manage to by any of those things. It’s neither funny enough, thrilling enough, nor touching enough to make its mark. Sure, it makes the most out of its talented cast, but even that’s not enough to save “Date Night” from being dull, mostly unfunny, and completely generic in every way. …
Quick Tip by . September 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
meh. mostly predictable and only somewhat funny, just reinforced my feeling that you can't make a feature length film out of an SNL skit concept (which this wasn't, but essentially the same idea). just not enough there to pull off a whole movie, imo
Quick Tip by . September 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Not bad, some plot devices felt really contrived but the performances of Fey and Carrell manages to exude a lot of energy and entertainment. Quite interesting how a romantic-family comedy can turn into a crime comedy/heist film; while not totally unpredictable, it was very enjoyable. [3 out of 5]
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What a great movie. Although I felt like the first and second act of the movie were extremely solid, the final act felt very rushed. You could tell there were a ton of on set reshoots to help put this movie together in the editing room. I felt like it was a little too convenient that they tricked them to go onto the roof and there were cops there...maybe a little more explanation would have helped =). But all in all I thought it was a great "Date Night" movie to see with my girlfriend...get it Date …
review by . April 12, 2010
In order for a movie packed full of unlikely plot-developments and general silliness like DATE NIGHT, a cast that's easy to love who have razor sharp comic timing and mastery of their tone is needed. Fortunately, Steve Carrell and Tina Fey meet all three requirements, and thus, DATE NIGHT works on many levels.    Carrell and Fey play a nearly middle aged married couple with kids. They have a comfortable suburban life, and are still fond of each other, but they are also clearly …
review by . April 11, 2010
We All Could Use a Good Date Night
DATE NIGHT   Written by Josh Clausner   Directed by Shawn Levy   Starring Steve Carrell, Tina Fey and Mark Wahlberg    Claire Foster: No! When he says,” vagina”, he means your face.    Before the day has even started, it is already gone.  Nasal strips are ripped off your face while miniature bodies pile drive into you before the alarm even has a chance to go off.  In all honesty, the alarm probably hasn’t even needed setting …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Tina Fey and Steve Carell are two of the most charming performers in entertainment today. Their goofy attractiveness makes them a perfect couple inDate Night: an unremarkable husband and wife from New Jersey, they get mistaken for crooks in Manhattan, sending them on a wild night replete with snooty wait staff, crooked cops, glitter-specked strippers, a shirtless superspy (Mark Wahlberg, as buff as ever), and a preposterous car chase. The movie makes no effort to be remotely plausible and the last third really goes off the rails, and it would probably be better served by less familiar faces in minor roles (bit parts are played by Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Common, James Franco, Mila Kunis, William Fichtner, and Ray Liotta). It's disappointing that the dialogue doesn't crackle the way it does on30 RockorThe Office. But Fey and Carell carry the movie along through sheer nerdy pluck. Rarely does a couple in a movie seem genuinely devoted to each other, not out of wild passion, but for all the things that a real marriage is built on: patience, shared humor, a willingness to deal with day-to-day annoyances, and simple affection. Fey and Carell seem like a couple you'd actually enjoy going out to dinner with. In today's world, that's more romantic than sunsets and bouquets of roses.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Shawn Levy
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: April 09, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
Runtime: 88 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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