Date Night is essentially a comedy lightly peppered with action sequences. Rarely do the two elements effectively complement one another, but fortunately Steve Carell and Tina Fey do, and the comedic duo’s resulting hysterics manage to triumph over the rather uninspired plot. The pacing of the film maintains a consistent bevy of laughs with the only lulls brought on by the forced deciphering of the “wrong man” storyline; with several surprisingly funny cameos and enough clever rants by the two leads, however, the funniest bits remain foremost in mind.
Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil (Steve Carell) Foster are just a “boring, married couple” whose lives have become lost in the daily grinds of their day jobs and nightly routines. Long gone are the spontaneity and romance as even their weekly “date night” finds them frequenting the same lackluster restaurants and trudging through the same dreary engagements. When close friends of the Fosters announce their separation, Claire and Phil are spurred into rekindling the flame and spring for a fancy dinner in the city, but such impulsiveness quickly leads to trouble as they’re mistaken for the Tripplehorns, a mysterious couple caught up in a blackmailing scheme. Now, with crooked cops, vicious mobsters, and high-ranking politicians all hot in pursuit, Claire and Phil must hunt down the real criminals while trying to survive their disastrous date night.
Pairing Steve Carell and Tina Fey, two of Hollywood’s most interesting comedians, is a grand idea. However, Date Night isn’t quite the right vehicle for the duo, who are independently hilarious and create an alluring onscreen chemistry, but don’t fit in the environment of the classic mistaken identity plot. The boundaries of reality are stretched paper thin in order to place the lead characters into compromising and embarrassing situations, and their moments of relationship-repairing frequently douse the flames of humor brought about from the dialogue. If only they weren’t so much like Carell and Fey, pretending to be the Foster’s pretending to be the Tripplehorn’s.
They are superb at panicking, but their funny conversations and quick-thinking impromptu always start strong and end weakly. A mid-movie curse-off between James Franco and Carell is painfully subdued, conforming to the boundaries of the MPAA, and complex action sequences, stunts, destruction and outsmarting cops are used to distract us from the abrupt conclusions to these well-intentioned but ultimately dissatisfying comedy skits. With fancy restaurants, high-speed pursuits, fast cars, thrilling danger, plenty of excitingly illegal endeavors and a perpetually shirtless Mark Wahlberg, Date Night has almost everything the average boring couple could wish for in real life – too bad this is just a movie.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)