As it tends to happen with couples who are married with children, Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are in a bit of a romantic rut. With two kids and two full-time jobs in New Jersey, they’re exhausted, but still, try to have “date night” at least one night a week. Date night seems to consist of eating at the same restaurant where they either discuss the kids or make a game out of checking out other couples in the restaurant and trying to speculate on what their story is. When some friends of theirs (Kristen Wiig and Mark Ruffalo) announce they’re getting divorced, Phil and Claire start to worry that perhaps they’re going to eventually find themselves in the same boat.
So to spice things up a bit, Phil decides to take Claire into the city to eat at a trendy new restaurant called Claw (“You’re welcome.”). The restaurant is pretentious and overpriced which means it’s impossible to get a reservation They decide to wait at the bar to see if anything opens up, and when Phil hears the hostess call repeatedly for the Triplehorns, he announces that he and Claire are the Triplehorns and the two are promptly seated. Well, from there things take a turn. As dinner winds down two menacing men approach the table and demand that Phil and Claire follow them outside. Assuming they were busted for stealing a reservation, the couple complies but quickly realizes that a case of mistaken identity has the two goons thinking they’re actually the Triplehorns, a couple who has been blackmailing their boss with some unknown content on a flash drive. And thus begins a series of events where Phil and Claire must track down the real Triplehorns, find the flash drive, and return it before they end up dead.
It’s probably no surprise that I watched this so soon after The Lovebirds, given the similarities between the films. I wanted to see if Date Night held up in my memory as being the funnier of the two “unsuspecting couple getting caught up in crime and murder!”-movies (yes, I know Date Night is only one of a few films that The Lovebirds borrowed from, but it felt the most similar to me at the time). Turns out, I was right! Just like with Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, I also think Tina Fey and Steve Carrell were the perfect leads for a film like this. They have some pretty amazing chemistry and they’re both comedic legends – is it too early to say that? – so they were able to carry every scene they were in without issue. Mark Wahlberg has a few amusing moments as a shirtless security expert who helps out Phil and Claire, but most of the supporting humor comes from brief cameos from James Franco, Mila Kunis, Nick Kroll, and JB Smoove. Oh, and you get a pre-Walking Dead Jon Bernthal playing “Young Man” at the beginning of the movie!
Date Night is a fun mix of action, comedy, and romance. Not all of the jokes will bring a chuckle, but there’s still plenty of humor and heart to make up for it. It might feel like there’s a lot going on plot-wise, at least with the flash drive, but it’s not important enough to try and follow. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Also, the outtakes are amazing.
I suppose the next time my husband and I are feeling like we’re going through the motions, all we’ve got to do is steal a reservation and see where the night takes us. Not only will it trigger the adventure we so desperately need, but it will help us put our marriage into perspective as well!