Thursday, April 15, 2010

Movie Review: Date Night

I should admit up front that I A) am not a Tina Fay fan, finding her at best modestly funny and at worst downright unfunny and B) I can take or leave Steve Carrel. Loved him in Get Smart but in the Office, too much of the humor is "uncomfortable humor" where you are supposed to laugh at him while liking him.

It is to his credit that he pulls it off.

With that pairing, I was quite ambivalent about seeing it...until my wife saw it and loved it. So with her recommendation in mind, off I went.

First, the movie review itself;

So long as you are capable of suspending your disbelief, this is a marvelous, entertaining movie. Yes, the plot and situations are ridiculous, bizarre, and unbelievable...but when you lose yourself in the movie, they make sense and provide the perfect vehicle for the stars.

Steve and Tina play understated, fun roles that become not just believable, but empathetic.

There are some laughs along the way, a couple minor plot twists that add just that little extra bit to the story and in the end a very satisfying conclusion. If you like "serviceable comedies" this one is a home run.

Where Date Night really shines, however, is its take on the modern marriage.

With both spouses often working outside the home, there is often a lack of energy for interacting with one another. Furthermore, there can easily develop a complacency, an assumption that all is well with the status quo.

The problems faced by the Fosters that come to light as they rampage across the city causing rampant property destruction, engaging in breaking and entering, theft, and entrapment, and consider whether their marriage has grown stale or not are things that many couples may find familiar.

Are they "boring" because their nights have a regular routine? has their marriage "lost the spark" because they no longer "get it on" with the regularity of rabbits or porn stars? Are they just going through the motions?

Or are those signs that they are working together in so much harmony that they are working for their common good?

A telling moment comes when it comes to light that Phil (Carrell) had actually read the entire, horrendous book referenced throughout the movie. He had not done so out of a sense of duty or obligation, but did so because, as he says to Claire (Fay), "It was important to you."

He did not resent reading books he lacked interest in but rather enjoyed it because it mattered to his wife. He did not ignore her interests but exerted some effort into learning what they were, expended energy into seeing to it that she was able to engage in them and enjoy them.

It was actually the picture of a truly wonderful marriage. They are comfortable with one another, they care about one another, and they are willing to work to make the life of their partner better even at the expense of sacrificing some of their own desires.

Theirs is the type of marriage oft-mocked in today's society. Aside from the duel career versus "making dinner in heels and pearls", it was almost a 50s stereotypical marriage...except real.

The type of marriage that many millions of happy couples have.

Sure, we and/or our mate may not be the most handsome, fittest, richest, or smartest person...but to our mate we are.

And when Phil tells Claire, "I would do it all again." referring to the marriage, it is a beautiful moment.

Yes, it is a reaffirming of "traditional" marriage. But I am one of those people who appreciates that.

I have my Claire. I hope I am her Phil. And even if we never steal a reservation and spend the next few hours destroying a town, running for our lives, dressing as strippers and having robot sex, I will still love her with every fiber of my being. I may never walk 20 miles into the desert to menstruate...but in the feelings expressed, I identify with Phil and Claire. (And yes, that is an inside reference, sensible only to those who see the movie. So go see it.)


Anonymous said...

This Review rocks!! Love it! -Goose

Date Night Movie said...

Date Night would have been a merely mediocre movie, but the flashes of funny throughout indicate the comedic gem that could have been with better direction and writing.