Canadian director Shawn Levy's Date Night pulls out all the stops in bringing out the laughs. The romantic comedy starring television stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, knows just how ridiculous it really is and succeeds with a big knowing wink.
Date Night revolves around a suburban couple, Phil (Carell) & Claire Foster (Fey) who are so caught up in mundane married life that they decide to spice up their ritual weekly night out. They decide on a whim to visit the hottest restaurant in town without a reservation and of course, they fail at getting a table. Phil however, notices that a particular table for two under the name "The Tripplehorns" is unclaimed and he ceases the moment. This is where disaster ensues.
In a case of mistaken identity, The Fosters are confused for The Tripplehorns by corrupt police officers Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson) and Collins (rapper Common) who have ties to a Mafia Head (Ray Liotta). They believe that The Tripplehorns are in possession of a stolen Flash Drive with incriminating evidence against the District Attorney Frank Crenshaw (William Fichtner) and have the intention of blackmailing Crenshaw with it. Armstrong and Collins are then led on a cat and mouse chase throughout New York City to find who they believe are The Tripplehorns. And even though The Fosters know they are innocent, they somehow find themselves getting caught in the thick of it all, falling deeper into trouble as they aren't able to convince their pursuers that they really are not The Tripplehorns.
Phil and Claire get into all sorts of hilarious antics and enlist the help of always shirtless Holbrooke (Mark Wahlberg), a top security expert and former real estate client of Claire's. The audience manages to get a few good laughs at the sexual tension between her and sexy Holbrooke at the expense of a jealous Phil who takes it like a man.
While under hot pursuit though, Phil and Claire manage to find the real Tripplehorns, Taste (James Franco) and Whippit (Mila Kunis), both whom are played to comedic perfection even though they appear only briefly. And they successfully manage to get hold of this highly sought-after Flash Drive.
Detective Arroyo (Taraji P. Henson) is overseeing this case and she appears to have a clear perspective on things, understanding that The Fosters really just are "a good couple from the burbs". Finally, but only after a hilariously over-the-top car chase and an unforgettably hot dance scene involving Phil, Claire and a Stripper Pole, news of the secret Flash Card's whereabouts are presented to Crenshaw, but whether or not The Fosters will make it out alive is the question.
I'll be honest in saying that Date Night is a story with far too many unexplained gaps and inaccuracies to place it in the same league as comedies like The Hangover or The 40 Year Old Virgin, although it does aim at the same demographic as those films with its crass penis and vagina jokes. For example, the whole premise of the story revolves around mistaken identity, but in this day and age, most restaurants won't confirm a table without the guests actually being physically present. It makes little sense that a reservation would have been called out at all for the non-present Tripplehorns. We're also led to believe in the end that Phil and Detective Arroyo have had some form of ongoing communication all along, but this is slapped-on at the end of the story for the sake of closure and it really made little sense to the audience. The biggest flaw of all though is the sub-plot of possible trouble in Phil and Claire's marriage, which never quite gets fully fleshed-out in order to make us want to cheer for their staying together. Instead we are more focused on them just staying alive.
Nonetheless, Date Night is a winner if you're walking in expecting a good time. As the credits roll at the end of the film, you see some very outstanding improvisational work from Carell and Fey who both drive the film almost entirely based on their talents alone, while having an absolute blast in the process. And because they are having fun, we can't help but want to be a part of the fun too. Fox's Date Night is now in wide release and I smell a sequel. Grade: B+