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 in years. Something will inevitably wake the Foster’s up to their routine earlier than necessary. Phil and Claire, played by the king and queen of NBC comedy, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, sit on opposite sides of their bed and stare into the separate abysses that await them. The message is clear; being married is hard, maybe even too hard. As you look at these two comedic geniuses though, you still see hope in their nearly defeated faces – hope for both the Foster’s themselves and for the movie you’re actually about to watch. What everybody needs is a good “Date Night”.
I am not married and nor do I have children. In fact, I saw “Date Night” in the middle of the afternoon, alone. I may not be the intended audience in regard to the marital doldrums theme we have seen plenty of times before but there is a whole other audience built into “Date Night” that director Shawn Levy plays to more often than the first. That would be the legions of Carell and Fey followers out there, of which I easily include myself among. Before this, I essentially avoided Levy’s work altogether. I’m not saying I’m about to go back and watch the “Night at the Museum” series but I must commend him for rising above the complete implausibility of the film’s mistaken identity premise by allowing his stars to shine when they should. Meanwhile, getting strong character actors, like James Franco, Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis for random bit parts also gives more credibility whenever it was needed.
Fey’s quick wit and Carell’s endearing awkwardness may be strengths we are used to by now and just expect to some extent, but their mastery is only getting better and it is their chemistry that makes “Date Night” work when it so easily could have bombed. These two immensely funny people pull from their dramatic strengths to make sure the Foster’s are a real couple. They’re real because you can always see the fear on their faces – the fear that they could actually lose each other. This “Date Night” really needs to work. And it does.
Review by Joseph Bélanger