Couples that have been married for a while seem to be the target audience for Date Night… If you’re in that category you’ll either find it mildly amusing – or that it hits a little too close to home.

Screen Rant reviews Date Night

Going in to Date Night, I didn’t really know what to expect – didn’t have a clue as to who the characters were or what the plot of the film was. Outside of knowing that Steve Carell and Tina Fey were starring I was a blank slate. Well, OK, I actually figured it was some kind of goofy singles romance comedy – and I usually hate those.

What the film is in fact, about, is Phil and Claire Foster – a couple who have been married long enough to have elementary school age kids and a life that has settled into a comfortable, if busy (yet boring) routine. It’s all about the day job, preparing the kids for school in the morning, playing with the kids when they get home and trying to fit in the occasional husband-wife “date night” here and there to keep them feeling like some semblance of a couple.

The problem is that even their date nights have gotten routine and predictable, and their best friends married couple, suffering from the same malaise, have decided to split up. Their friends just feel like they’re “excellent roomates” and not a romantic couple any more.

Spurred by this, both Phil and Claire decide to make their next date night a better night out: Claire dresses up in an attractive dress and Phil looks dashing in a suit. They decide that instead of going to their usual local restaurant that they’ll head into “the city” to try to get into a ritzy restaurant. Of course they get there and it’s booked up months in advance (as the quite funny maitre’ d points out with disdain). Phil decides to be bold and when a reservation seems to not show up, he claims that they’re them so he can show Claire a special evening.

It turns out that there was a good reason for the couple who reserved the table to not show up (and when you see them later you’ll find it hard to believe they would have ever had a reservation at that restaurant), and a dangerous adventure ensues for the Fosters. Turns out there are mob and “bad cop” connections with the name they chose and those connections want something that they of course do not have. Mild fun ensues.

I like both Carell and Fey (and Fey, by the way, is way hotter than she should be for a 40 year old comedienne) and their chemistry here is very good. They play off each other well and really seem like a familiar couple. Some of the subtle bits of humor will (I believe) really speak to couples who’ve been married for a while – perhaps engendering a little elbow nudge here and there during the viewing of the film. Being in that category, I’m not sure how this might go over for young, single twenty-somethings.

The film was (for me, anyway) never really laugh out loud hilarious, but it was mildly funny throughout. I did let out a laugh here and there (in particular when the Fosters run into the folks they were impersonating). I’m usually leery of cameos, but the ones here didn’t work too badly I suppose. James Franco and Mila Kunis seemed a little too self-aware, but Mark Wahlberg’s continually shirtless beefcake cameo was very good (as was Carell’s and Fey’s quite opposite reactions to him). And who doesn’t like to see Ray Liotta on screen?

Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Mark Wahlberg in 'Date Night'

Overall I found Date Night to be funnier than I expected and it actually had a heart. I enjoyed seeing the journey from a bland relationship back to where there was a real connection between the Fosters. It was also on the mild side of PG-13 up until the end where they end up in a very seedy location/scene (I won’t give it away). When the film went there frankly it seemed very out of tune with the rest of the film up to that point, and while somewhat funny, I thought it detracted from the movie overall.

So overall I give Date Night a mild recommendation, although some folks might be put off by the scene towards the end of the film that I mentioned above due to it’s fairly crude sexual nature (nothing explicit, just out of place in the film in my opinion). Oh, and if you go, DO sit through the credits – some of the absolutely funniest stuff in the film is in the outtakes. :)

Our Rating:

3 out of 5