Date Night (2010)

(In theatres, April 2010) There’s something refreshing in seeing a comedy for adults that delivers entertainment while avoiding the crassest demands of teenage audiences.  It’s not that Date Night is short on violence, profanity, sexual references and overall bad behaviour, but it refuses to indulge in them for their own sake.  The result is, for lack of a better expression, well-mannered.  Date Night is seldom mean or meaningless; it features two mature comedians (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) at the height of their skills and it’s obviously aimed at an older target audience of long-time married couples.  Date Night has too many plotting coincidences to be a perfect film, but it does end up better than average, and that’s already not too bad.  If the script logic is often contrived, it’s far better at making us believe that the lead couple’s reactions are what bright-but-ordinary people would say or do in dangerous situations, rather than what the Hollywood stereotypes may dictate.  There are even a few particularly good sequences in the mix, including a deliriously funny car chase through the streets of New York City, and a thinly-veiled excuse for Carell and Fey to dance as badly as they can.  A bunch of recognizable character actors also appear for a scene or two, from the sadly underused William Fichtner to an always-shirtless Mark Wahlberg and a pasta-fed Ray Liotta.  Add to that the somewhat original conceit of involving a bored married couple in a criminal caper (rather than using the thriller elements to make a couple “meet cute” as is far more common) and Date Night is original enough, and well-made enough to be noticeable in the crop of films at the multiplex.  A few laughs, a few thrills and a few nods at the difficulty of staying married; what else could we ask from a middle-of-the-road Hollywood action comedy?

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