Marriage is tough. You rock and roll through the first few years.
Statements made are profound. Little things said and done have deep meaning. The relationship survives on pheromones and personality exploration.
Then real life begins. Things get stale. Those treasured quirks rust. Reality says a few years into knowing anyone and you grow weary of the same tired stories and life attitudes and complaints.
Many couples deal with the doldrums via date night. It’s the one night you’re required to make nice and pretend your partner is just as fascinating, beautiful or handsome as they were when you first met. You do dinner or a movie or a concert and “catch up.”
This is where Phil and Claire Foster find themselves. Their lives are all work and kids. Marriage is a bore. Sex is a chore.
When the neighbors announce they’re packing their relationship in, Phil and Claire decide perhaps it’s time to spice things up. Dinner at a swank restaurant in New York City does the trick. But they don’t have reservations so Phil and Claire stretch and do something they would normally never do. They cheat and say they’re a no-show couple, the Tripplehorns.
Bad decision. Turns out the Tripplehorns are blackmailing some very, very nasty people and Phil and Claire suddenly find themselves running for their lives.
Pokerfaced Steve Carell and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire. Both do dead-on deadpan. It alone sells steak that doesn’t have much sizzle. You like them. They’re adult. They act adult. They act like you.
They’re so good you don’t even mind the opportunities the film misses to get a bit deeper into the mystery of marriage and the serio-comic places marriages go to die.
Most of Date Night is a common chase movie with predictable close calls, gun play, car chases and accompanying car crashes. Admittedly, one of the car chase sequences is quite original, and it has a unique and very funny boat escape scene. Other than that, not much stands out.
Though the landscape is dotted with cliche characters, the film works because director Shawn Levy (both Night at the Museum movies) gives Carell and Fey plenty of room to play and gives them fun people to play with: Mark Wahlberg, James Franco and Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta and William Fichtner.
All have a blast with their parts, and no one takes it seriously. That’s what makes Date Night a good date night for couples unable to resist making Date Night a date night.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for strong language and mature themes. It opens Friday, April 9 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.