Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 15
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

HOW ARE WE EVER GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS MESS?: Phil (Steve Carrell, right) and Claire (Tina Fey) Foster are running for their lives from crooked cops and a gang of mobsters who think that the hapless couple is in possession of a computer flash drive that contains incriminating evidence for each group of their pursuers.

Date Night: Steve Carell and Tina Fey Co-Star in Delightful Comedy

Kam Williams

To be honest, my expectations for Date Night dropped after I saw its opening scene when Steve Carell winced from pain after a Breathe Right strip was yanked from his nose. After all, one of the comic’s most memorable moments occurred in The 40 Year-Old Virgin where he had the same reaction to having his chest hair waxed.

Fortunately, my fears that Date Night might be an unimaginative dud were wrong. This thoroughly delightful screwball comedy may well turn out to be the funniest film of the year.

Carell and co-star Tina Fey prove to be perfect foils for each other’s brand of humor (slapstick and tongue-in-cheek, respectively). The movie keeps the pair relentlessly on the run virtually from beginning to end. They also manage to generate chemistry between them that will convince you that they’re really a jaded New Jersey couple whose marriage has gone stale.

At the point of departure, we see that, between raising their two children and their hectic careers, they have little energy left for each other by the end of the day. Phil and Claire Foster have come to feel more like roommates than lovers. When they hear that their close friends Brad (Mark Ruffalo) and Haley (Kristen Wiig) are divorcing, they decide to spice up their relationship by having dinner at Claw, a trendy Manhattan restaurant.

So they hire a babysitter (Leighton Meester), and go into the city to the restaurant only to be told by the dismissive maitre d’ (Nick Kroll) that they can’t be seated because they didn’t make a reservation. So, when nobody responds to the hostess’ (Olivia Munn) repeated calls for “the Tripplehorns,” Phil and Claire pretend to be the absentee party.

This is where the plot thickens since the Fosters have no idea that “Tripplehorn” is the alias employed by a blackmailer (James Franco) in possession of a computer flash drive that is filled with incriminating information and photos. Both mobsters and crooked cops have staked out the restaurant in hopes of getting the damning piece of evidence. They swoop down on the innocent couple fully expecting to seize the flash drive from them.

The Fosters make a break for it, barely managing to keep one step ahead of their pursuers while trying to make sense of the mess in which they now find themselves. The ensuing madcap adventure takes them uptown and down, across Central Park Pond, and back to Greenwich Village, gradually building in intensity to culminate in a hilarious car chase with a cameo appearance by J.B. Smoove that is guaranteed to have you howling with laughter.

In addition to the leads’ terrific performances, accolades are in order for director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum 1 & 2) for assembling a stellar supporting cast that includes James Franco, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, William Fitchner, Mila Kunis, Will.i.Am, and Leighton Meester. The director’s attention to detail makes a big difference in the final product and undoubtedly will be appreciated by audiences everywhere.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, violence, a drug reference and pervasive crude humor. Running time: 88 minutes. Studio: 20th Century Fox.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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