Have you ever watched “The Office” and “30 Rock” and wondered what would happen if Michael Scott and Liz Lemon hooked up?
“Date Night” is the story of Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey), a suburban New Jersey couple whose love life has gone stale. Between their jobs, book clubs, and taking care of their two young children, their lives have become routine and monotonous. They’re both looking for a little bit of excitement to rekindle their romance, or see if it’s still there at all.
When their usual date night rolls around, instead of going to the same restaurant, with the same waiter and same order, they decide to shake things up a bit and head into Manhattan for a nice evening. When they can’t get a reservation at a swanky upscale restaurant they lie about their names and steal the reservation of a couple of no-shows, the Tripplehorns.
What they don’t know is that the Tripplehorns are in the middle of a black-mailing scheme that involves a couple of dirty cops, a very dastardly mob boss played by Ray Liotta, and some files stored on a flash drive, or as Claire calls it, a “computer stick thingy.”
It is up to the Fosters to track down the real Tripplehorns (James Franco and Mila Kunis) and catch the bad guys. And with a little help from a former client of Claire’s, intelligence expert Holbrooke Grant (a very shirtless Mark Wahlberg), they just might enjoy their evening out on the town.
Is “Date Night” formulaic? Yes. Do you know exactly how it’s going to end? Yes. But sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Director Shawn Levy (“Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Night at the Museum”) doesn’t take you anywhere new or unexpected in this action-comedy, but you really don’t care because you had fun getting there.
This success is entirely because of the casting of the two leads. If you don’t like this couple in the first five minutes then you won’t care what happens to them in the following 83. Luckily, it is impossible not to fall in love with the Fosters. You root for them and just want the bad men to go away so they can have a nice evening out.
Carell and Fey deliver in every scene. They are a match made in comedy heaven. Both have excellent comedic timing and great improvisational skills (as seen in the blooper reel during the end credits). The two have a chemistry on screen that makes them feel like a real couple you’d meet off-screen.
The events in “Date Night” are completely absurd. As you’re watching you know that they could never happen, yet at the same time believe that they could happen to this couple. Carell and Fey aren’t action heroes. They aren’t toned and muscley; they look like average people, which keeps the story grounded and relatable.
“Date Night” is a story you’ve seen before, but Carell, Fey and the rest of the all-star cast bring a new life to an old plot. The action scenes are fun and the jokes are funny. A night out with the Fosters is definitely a good date.