Movies: Date Night * * *
Directed by Shawn Levy from a script by Josh Klausner, Date Night is a distant relative of films such as the 1971 Neil Simon comedy The Out-of-Towners, in which Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis played a couple of rubes who get out of their depth on a visit to Manhattan. In the case of Date Night, though, the couple in question don't have to travel very far, because Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are, as they might put it, "a couple of old marrieds" from New Jersey who get into all sorts of trouble on a night out in the city.
When Phil and Claire's best friends announce that they are separating, the Fosters begin to worry that they too might be sinking into a dangerous rut. So instead of their usual weekly 'date night' at a local steak house, Phil surprises Claire by taking her to a fancy restaurant in Manhattan. When they can't get a table, Phil pretends they are a couple called the Tripplehorns in order to get a missing diner's reservation. But no sooner have they sat down than a pair of goons descend on their table asking them for a missing computer memory stick.
This case of mistaken identity is the beginning of a nightmarish night for the Fosters, who will be assaulted, shot at and involved in high-speed chases as they evade both a criminal gang and the law.
Shawn Levy is a hack director whose previous misdemeanors include the execrable Steve Martin Pink Panther remake, but even his leaden style can't diminish the combined appeal of Tina Fey and Steve Carell, who make a charming couple and drag the very best out of an intermittently funny script. There are some nice cameos too -- all of which should make Date Night a very enjoyable evening out.