So far this summer my husband and I have started a bit of a tradition - Tuesday night "Date Night" outings to the cinema! In the past couple of weeks I've let him pick the flick (I figure he does enough when I ask him to sit down and watch one of my decidedly "Indie" Netflix picks at home, he's entitled to pick some of the lighter summer fare).
This past week we made our date night a true date night, making our way to the Ballston Regal Theatre for an evening showing of (have you guessed yet?), Date Night (with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey)! As Romantic Comedies go, Date Night was quite enjoyable. Tina and Steve took us on a wildly uproarious ride as their characters, Phil and Claire Foster, attempted to spice up their happy, albeit, somewhat boring, average "Date Night".
The opening scene presents Mr. and Mrs. Foster in bed with the clock flashing an early hour on the night stand, their morning slumber soon-to-be interrupted by the running, jumping, and subsequently, landing of a child on Claire's shoulder followed by the cruel ripping off of Phil's anti-snoring "breathe E-Z" nose strip. This is our welcome to a day in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Foster, a New Jersey couple with young children living in a quaint suburban home outside of New York City.
After learning of the impending divorce of one their closest couple-friends, the Fosters decide to shake things up a bit, and well, prove to themselves (and each other) that their marriage is anything but dead. Seeking a high class "night out on the town" Mr. Foster drives them to a famed restaurant aptly titled "Claw" - the sort of place where the staff act as if everyone is at a party and the restaurant guests were not invited. Despite the pretentious host who ensures them in short order they did not make it in time to actually get a table and should expect to wait patiently at the bar all night; the Fosters decide to make their own luck, quickly grabbing a table really reserved for a "Mr. and Mrs. Trippelhorn" (who, as luck would have it, fail to show up). Upon sitting down and enjoying an apparently delicious entree, two goons (and yes, we would certainly classify them as such), arrive at "Mr. and Mrs. Tripplehorn's" table to inform them that they must leave immediately and step outside into the nefarious alley behind the restaurant. Of course, thinking this is nothing more than a slap on the wrist for stealing someone else's table reservation, they agree to do so.
Standing vulnerable in the alley, the "Tripplehorns" are corrected and informed as to the real reason they are out there - they have apparently stolen from Joe Miletto (played by none-other-than Ray Liotta), a notorious mobster. At this point, the film takes off and we proceed to go along for a hilarious ride as Claire and Phil Foster stumble onto the misgivings of the city's District Attorney, Frank Crenshaw (played by William Fichtner) and the city's seedy underworld.
Carell gives us what we expect; the sometimes bumbling, but always good-intentioned, caricature of a suburban guy trying to look cool, but constantly falling victim to his own cluelessness (recall similar characters in Get Smart and of course, the famed Michael Scott of The Office). But, no matter how many gaffs he makes, we find him endearing and secretly hope he can manage to get out of his own way long enough to do to the right thing and have it actually work out.
Fey is equally enjoyable as Claire Foster. Although even slightly less "cool" than her husband (she is absolutely clueless when it comes to any kind of technology and refers to a flash drive as "that little stick thingy we use at work"), she eventually succeeds in understanding the full scope of the plot they've found themselves mixed up in.
Liotta, quite rightly so, plays the notorious gangster. Since the start of this reviewer's awareness of him (as his ingenious portrayal of Henry Hill in Goodfellas), Liotta is often a welcome addition to any cast of characters (if you've not seen Corrina, Corrina, you are missing out on one of his best), especially, of late, as he delved into the comedic/family-friendly arena with such roles as Jack in Wild Hogs. His role as Joe Miletto is equally good, however, this reviewer would have liked a bit more on-screen time.
Among the great performances of Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, and Ray Liotta, we are treated to the stylings of an exceedingly hunky Mark Walberg, as Holbrooke Grant, a former client of Claire's who, conveniently, happens to be a wealthy independent security consultant with a litany of spy-like toys and agrees to help the Fosters in their quest to find the real Tripplehorns and ultimately escape the city in one piece.
Date Night is recommended for fans of Steve Carrell and Tina Fey and those looking for an enjoyable low-key "Date Night" flick.
The BC Review Rating: B