Seeing Date Night would make for, well, a mighty fun date night. It’s filled with laughs and moments that will have couples nudging and squeezing each other with recognition, especially those married-with-kids types who open the daily comics and head straight for Baby Blues.
The movie stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey (two of our finest comic talents) as Phil and Claire Foster. Their two small children are about the only excitement in their lives. And that excitement can be trying, often awakening them before dawn, crashing knees-first into their backs like cannonballs from a diving board.
Their day-to-day is mostly drudgery punctuated by nagging little irritations. You know the type. They mean nothing, but a bad night’s sleep and they become declarations of war. Eyes half-closed in the morning, Claire painfully bumps her knees and grimaces. She looks down to see every bathroom drawer extended. Her expression says, “I can forgive him for leaving the seat up, but not this!”
Yes, they are a man and a woman clearly on the verge of a mid-life crisis, all nicely underscored with "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones: “They’re forming in a straight line. They’re going through a tight wind. The kids are losing their minds…” And the only thing keeping them from turning all zombie on each other is their weekly date night.
They like to go to restaurants and watch other couples. They spin fanciful stories about what’s really going through the minds of a man and woman on a date at a nearby table. The stories – improvised by the nimble-minded Carell and Fey – are very funny, especially one about a guy eating a potato, but they are something else as well. Phil and Claire are role-playing, engaging in harmless little escapes.
At a book group meeting, they get a vision of a possible future. Their best friends, the Sullivans (played deliciously by Mark Ruffalo and Kristen Wiig) are going to split up – and they’d always seemed so happy. Claire and Phil both wonder: “Are we next?”