The problem with concept films is always where to take the concept next; Hancock brought us the drunken superhero, but once he’d mended his ways, the film struggled to apply a cohesive plot development, or The Pacifier, where army man becomes a nanny, but beyond a brainless siege on the kids, there’s no real arc for the central characters. The key to a high concept movie is to incorporate a plot into the idea, and Date Night is a fine example of how that can prove successful.
Parents of two, Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey) would never question their love for each other but have fallen into an endless routine you’d be forgiven for growing tired of. When two of their friends announce their break-up, the Fosters certainly aren’t worried for themselves, but feel they should shake things up a bit on their usual weekday out, so head into the city for dinner at one of Manhattan’s most expensive restaurants. Without a reservation, the couple have a drink at the bar, and when a table goes unclaimed, they pretend to be the Triplehorns and sit down to a well-deserved evening of luxury. Or at least that’s what they had expected.
The Triplehorns, however, weren’t your average diners and after the Fosters maintain their new identity, are pulled outside by what they thought to be restaurant staff, only to be accused of blackmail with a mystery flash drive demanded by armed henchmen. Before they know it the Fosters are in the middle of a complicated plot involving the local mob boss and a member of the local government and are chased across the city through the night as they attempt to get to the bottom of the trouble thrown upon them.
With a snappy narrative and entertaining plot, though he concept goes someway to setting up a very promising film, the success of Date Night would always rely heavily on the performances of leading pair Steve Carell and Tina Fey, and they don’t disappoint. With great comedic chemistry between the two and perfect delivery of lines from an interesting script, their interchanges will have you close to tears at times and in between always chuckling along.
In the second and third acts as the Fosters are on the run across New York City, the film is a little more action heavy that you might have expected, and though some of it feels unnecessary, with great set-pieces including a car chase with police vehicles going after two cars fused together after a head-on crash, Date Night feels somewhat like a more mainstream, non-stoner version of Pineapple Express.
Aside from the success of Carell and Fey, numerous actors make a bunch of pleasing cameos throughout the film. From Ray Liotta to James Franco, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo and Mark Wahlberg, the acting talent throughout will certainly raise a smile.
The film to get Shawn Levy back on track after the second, and entirely forgettable, Night At The Museum film, Date Night isn’t a comedy classic but it is undeniably a lot of fun and easily hits the laugh quota for you to get your money’s worth.