Film: “Date Night”; Director: Shawn Levy; Cast: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, William Fichtner, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco; Rating: ***
As individuals, we go through it. But a married couple going through a mid-life crisis can be tragic, or if you believe director Shawn Levy, it could be hilarious.
Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) are a sweet affable couple. They have steady jobs — Phil as a tax lawyer and Claire as a real estate agent. But years of marriage and raising two naughty children have taken a toll and they are more like ‘excellent roommates’ than a passionate couple.
They go on a date night every week, but it’s only slightly less boring than their daily existence. After they see their best friends break apart as a couple, their own frustrations come to surface. They know they have to do something. They begin with their date night.
Instead of going to their usual restaurant, they decide to go to Manhattan and dine at an expensive restaurant. But they have no reservation. So they steal a reservation that is in the name of Tripplehorns. Little do they know that they are in for big trouble. Turns out that the original Tripplehorns have a flash drive, which two goons are ready to kill the boring couple for.
Their explanation that they are actually the Fosters falls on deaf ears. So, they run for their lives and head to the police station. Sadly, it turns out that the goons are actually cops. Having almost no one to turn to, and nothing to save them from two murderous men and a whole Italian mafia behind them, they have no option left but to pull up their socks and fight them out on their own.
They encounter situations they couldn’t imagine, and do things they wouldn’t have done in a 100 re-births.
‘Date Night’ uses a cliched premise for an action-comedy. Yet, for a Hollywood flick to work the basic plot and also the final resolution, it need not be original — but the situations, the tension, the chemistry between the lead pair and the comedy definitely need to be.
Thankfully, director Levy and writer Josh Klausner make ingenious situations that have enough original gags and witty dialogues going to have you in splits.
In one of the funniest sequences, a sports car and a taxi are stuck head on, engaged in a tug-of-war and chased by the police across Manhattan. They try different means, but fail to get either the cars separated or the police off their tail. They succeed only when the husband and wife work as a team.
This tribute to marriage and married couples is hilarious.
Oh yes, the couple come out unscathed in the end, but wise. They learn their lessons. They discover in the course of the night that their spouses, who they had taken for granted as boring, have much more in them that they had lost touch with. It took some effort, and a lot of zany situations, for them to discover it.
Manhattan provides the perfect background for the breakup and getting together of the couple.
Mark Whalberg in a shirtless role Salman Khan fans would rave about and James Franco in a quick cameo show good timing and complement the lead pair well.
“Date Night” is a good watch for married couples to laugh at themselves and for the unmarried to know where they could be headed.