Combustible Celluloid
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With: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson, Common, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Bill Burr, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Savannah Argenti, Nick Kroll, Olivia Munn, Gal Gadot, Will i Am
Written by: Josh Klausner
Directed by: Shawn Levy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference
Running Time: 88
Date: 04/06/2010

Date Night (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Clowns on the Town

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Date Night isn't brilliant or hilarious, but it's something perhaps even more rare. It's consistent, brisk and charmingly lightweight.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey star -- perfectly matched -- as Phil and Claire Foster, a pretty typical Brooklyn couple with two kids. They're overworked and exhausted with the daily effort of herding the kids. They have a standing "date night," which has likewise devolved into one more routine, a meal at the same old stake house.

When another couple they know splits up, they both decide to put a little more effort into it; they head into Manhattan for the latest hot restaurant, "Claw." Unable to get a table, Phil, grabs a reservation from a no-show, the Tripplehorns. They enjoy their meal, until two thug types drag them outside and accuse them of blackmail; they apparently have an important zip drive and are holding it ransom. The Fosters try to explain that they're not the Tripplehorns, but before they know it, they're on an all-night Manhattan adventure, trying to keep from getting killed.

Their amateur action-hero antics introduce them to a terrific array of supporting characters, from Taraji P. Henson as a cop to Mark Wahlberg as some kind of sex-god secret agent. Carell and Fey really click here as they trade (improvised?) dialogue, and the humor keeps going all the way into the third act, when most comedies give up.

Director Shawn Levy -- who has an otherwise appalling resume -- keeps an agreeably fleet-footed pace, with the Manhattan backdrop used at its looniest and most romantic. Best of all, it's a movie about married forty-somethings, with actual concerns and complaints from that demographic.

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