DATE NIGHT(15, 88 mins) 8/10
Romance is dead and the lead characters of Shawn Levy’s hysterical action comedy may be too before the end credits roll.
Date Night centres on a loving, married couple who have lost the spark in their relationship.
The spouses’ efforts to reinvigorate the marriage take a turn for the surreal as screenwriter Josh Klausner propels these unassuming and hard-working suburbanites on a series of crazy misadventures.
Steve Carell and Tina Fey are perfectly cast as the parents trapped in a state of bland indifference, who just need several brushes with death to remind them what is important.
So much of our enjoyment comes from the sizzling rapport between the leads.
“Everything you’re doing, I’m doing in heels,” Fey’s wife reminds her husband as the fugitive couple go on the run and call in favours to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
Phil Foster (Carell) and his wife Claire (Fey) live in New Jersey with their children, who negate the need for an alarm clock by pile driving their parents’ heads before 5am.
Every week, the Fosters hire a babysitter so they can go through the ritual of date night – sitting at the same table in the same restaurant ordering the same food, all under the guise of spending quality time together.
Phil and Claire attempt to spice up date night by having dinner at the most exclusive new restaurant in Manhattan.
The Fosters arrive without a reservation and when another couple fails to turn up, Phil and Claire cheekily pretend to be the elusive Tripplehorns and take the vacant table.
Towards the end of the meal, heavies Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson) and Collins (Common) take Phil and Claire into an alleyway and demand the return of a flash drive which the real Tripplehorns have stolen.
The Fosters’ innocent pleas fall on deaf thug ears and the married couple become embroiled in a life or death race around the city involving a violent gangster (Ray Liotta), a disgraced Mayor (William Fichtner), a plucky female cop (Taraji P Henson) and a hunky surveillance expert (Mark Wahlberg).
Date Night has huge fun at the expense of unlikely action heroes Carell and Fey.
Their characters’ ham-fisted efforts to escape an early grave are comically inept, including a getaway in quite possibly the world’s slowest motor boat.
A hare-brained car chase and a sequence in a pole-dancing club where the Fosters pretend to be “sex robots” to work up one punter into a froth of sexual excitement are side-splitting.
The supporting cast has a ball, notably Wahlberg who pokes gentle fun at his image as a dunderhead with a rippling six pack.
Levy maintains a jaunty pace and offsets the lunacy with moments of heartfelt emotion to ensure this is a date night to remember.