Date Night

Date Night

2010, PG-13, 88 min. Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Jimmi Simpson, Common, Taraji P. Henson, Leighton Meester, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta, William Fichtner, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 9, 2010

For a date-night outing unburdened by high expectations, there is no better choice out there right now than the transparently titled comedy Date Night. Carell and Fey create a totally believable portrait of a New Jersey husband and wife whose jobs, child-rearing, and home-maintenance responsibilities dominate their lives and leave little time and energy left over for romantic pursuits and time alone as a couple. Despite the suitability of the casting and the naturalistic performances of the stars, Date Night never breaks out of its dullsville rut. The film is only mildly amusing, utterly predictable, and a sad spectacle to watch, as two of television’s cleverest comic personalities (on The Office and 30 Rock, respectively) dumb down their banter to reach the broader tastes of the filmgoing audience. The trouble begins for Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey) when they decide to go into Manhattan for a date-night dinner at a new trendy restaurant and, unable to get a table, pose as a couple called the Tripplehorns, who have not shown up to claim their reservations. Before finishing with their meal, Phil and Claire are forced from their table by thugs (Simpson and Common) who work for a mob boss (Liotta) who apparently has a beef with the Tripplehorns, thus beginning a long night of chase-and-escape. In episodic fashion, they encounter a sympathetic detective (Henson), a shirtless security operative (Wahlberg), the real Tripplehorns (Franco and Kunis), and a D.A. who is an Eliot Spitzer-styled duplicitous moral crusader (Fichtner). In another episodic scene back home before the commotion starts, Wiig and Ruffalo stop in for what appears to be a one-day shoot as an exemplar married couple about to break up. There is also one slow boat escape, one fast car chase, and a moderate amount of gunplay that manages to hit nothing – which may be the overriding metaphor for the movie. Date Night sprays its bouquet far and wide but is shooting mostly blanks.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Shawn Levy Films
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
This well-worn premise still has some life in it.

Louis Black, Dec. 19, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You
Awfully likeable ensemble comedy.

Kimberley Jones, Sept. 19, 2014

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

The Reason I Jump
Poetic insight into autism, based on Naoki Higashida memoir

Jan. 8, 2021


Date Night, Shawn Levy, Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Jimmi Simpson, Common, Taraji P. Henson, Leighton Meester, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta, William Fichtner, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle