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Film / Date Night

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Not your usual date, or theirs.

"God no, he turned it sideways. KILL SHOT! THAT'S A KILL SHOT!"
Phil Foster

Date Night is a 2010 romantic/action/comedy film directed by Shawn Levy and starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey as a hapless New Jersey couple, who have a "date night" every week.

A couple who is friends with them is getting divorced because they have gotten bored with each other. Phil and Claire are told independently that they need to spice up their life. One night, after seeing her dressed up far beyond her usual date night "business casual", Phil decides to take Claire to the exclusive restaurant Claw, but neglects to make reservations in advance. Upon their arrival, Phil decides to take the reservation of a no-show couple, the Triplehorns.

During dinner, a pair of men arrive and ask to talk to them in the alley outside. Phil and Claire comply, believing them to be restaurant employees who have discovered their dishonesty. They turn out to be thugs working for mobster Joe Miletto, attempting to retrieve a flash drive that the real Triplehorns have stolen. Phil and Claire attempt to explain themselves, but the men threaten them at gunpoint. Phil leads them to Central Park, where he and Claire escape after assaulting the two men.

After discovering the two men are corrupt police officers, Phil and Claire realize they can't trust the police, since the police must be on Miletto's payroll. With the thugs still after them, they decide to retrieve the flash drive from the real Triplehorns and return it to Miletto so that the men will leave them alone.

The rest of the film is Phil and Claire's attempt to get through the night without being killed or endangering their family at home. This involves skills, knowledge, and connections they didn't know they had, plus a few that they don't have, and multiple near-disasters.

It placed second in its box-office clash with the infamous remake of Clash of the Titans, but it was well-received, with critics noting the great chemistry between Carell and Fey.

The movie provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Of sorts. In the scene where the kids are watching the SpongeBob episode Karate Choppers, one of Phil's daughters waves a Minion doll up and down (imitating SpongeBob trying to karate chop Sandy over the phone). Steve Carell voiced Gru in Despicable Me. Kristen Wiig (Haley) would go on to appear in the Despicable Me sequels.
  • Adam Westing: Mark Wahlberg as Holbrooke Grant is likely a nod to his actor Mr. Fanservice and Action Hero roles rolled into a James Bond parody expy.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: Even though the police know they are directly responsible for breaking and entering, information theft, the destruction of a New York City Cab, quite a few parked cars and a substantial number of police cars, they get off just fine in the end with nary a slap on the wrist. Seems like their Hero Insurance was paid up. Of course, if they arrest them they then would have to say, in court, it was because they were running from corrupt police officers on the mob's pay roll. That amount of bad PR would be a lot more trouble then just letting them go.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The Maitre'd at Claw.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "We've got you on obstruction of justice, racketeering, conspiracy, and I'm pretty sure prostitution."
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Phil and Claire distracting the hostess away from her podium, and later, when they bluff their way into the bordello.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The poster shows the two are alright. In the film, not only are their clothes roughed up, but they get a fair share of bruises.
  • Becareful What You Wish For: Phil and Claire are a bit bored of their suburban lives and worry that their marriage might hit the rocks. So, they decide to be spontaneous one night and have a grand night out on the town, only to get caught up in a murderous conspiracy they're really not prepared for.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The police storm the rooftop right on Claire's cue.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Phil wears Claire's glasses when they disguise themselves as a snooty upper class couple, forcing her to get the information they came for by pressing her face right up to the computer screen.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning, at home, Claire bangs her shins on drawers someone had left open. Halfway through the movie it happens twice more and it turns out it was Phil's fault each time, since leaving drawers open is a bad habit of his.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • Claire on flash drives: "Oh, it's a computer sticky thing? That's... in my office, we call it a computer sticky thing."
    • Earlier on, Phil refers to risotto as "that rice thing".
  • Calling Your Attacks: In a meta way. When she is trying to get into the Peppermint Hippo posing as a new prostitute, Claire talks like she has a mouth full of gum. When the bouncer goes to let them in, she says to Phil that she's not really chewing gum. That can be seen as Tina Fey calling out her acting, rather than the audience assuming she really does have gum in her mouth. Also doubles as a Call-Back because Phil asked her earlier after he vomited if she had any gum, even though they both just had all their belongings taken from them.
  • The Cameo:
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A number of things, but most importantly Claire's "counting to three" threat.
    • Also notable is the gun Phil notices in Holbrook's apartment, which Phil later uses in Taste's apartment, and more importantly, when the cops notice Phil and Claire in the car.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: D.A. Frank Crenshaw is seen early in the film giving a speech about cleaning up the streets. He turns out to be the subject of the blackmail material mobster boss Joe Miletto has.
  • Chekhov's News: An early mention of a local district attorney, an iconic broom, and a clean-up act turns out to play a big part in why the heroes are getting chased down.
  • Depraved Bisexual: William Fichtner's character, the District Attorney. When Claire prepares to Honey Trap him, his bouncer sends Phil in with her, since "he likes you both."
  • Convenient Escape Boat: Subverted. When Phil and Claire attempt to escape Collins and Armstrong in Central Park by using one of Loeb Boathouse's boats, they discover the boat has been nerfed by the staff to keep it from going at high speeds.
  • Counting to Three:
    • Parodied. Claire uses this effectively on one of her kids in the beginning of the movie. The thugs who confront them at the restaurant threaten to count to three, to which Claire replies that she's not intimidated by it as she plays the counting game with her kids all the time. The villains then pull out guns, to which Claire exclaims, "This is a different version!"
    • During the Mexican Standoff at the climax of the movie, Claire tells the group she expects them to all put their guns down by the time she counts to three. She begins counting, and the group begins debating whether she's serious.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Taste Tripplehorn, who made dinner reservations using the same alias as their blackmail letter.
  • Dirty Cop: Phil and Claire are pursued by two cops moonlighting as enforcers for a mob boss.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Claire can't keep her eyes off Holbrooke's shirtless chest, greatly irking Phil.
  • Erotic Dream: Claire claims to have a recurring erotic dream where she has sex with three men at once. It actually stresses her out because she "can only think of jobs for two".
  • Everyone Has Standards: Parodied. Everybody who hears Phil and Claire's explanation (that they stole the dinner reservations) is disgusted and make clear that they would never do that. That is everybody, including the cops and the people trying to kill them.
  • Expy: Holbrooke Grant is one of James Bond, due to being a Mr. Fanservice who is a veteran Action Hero with Cool Cars, gadgets and hotties by his side.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A majority of the film takes place over the course of one night.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: Phil and Claire steal another couple's dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant. Unfortunately for them, the couple they pose as are involved in a blackmail plot against a local politician which puts Phil and Claire in the crosshairs of two crooked cops working for the blackmailer.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Phil's weird sex fantasy now involves Holbrooke after meeting him.
  • Fan Disservice: Claire and Phil's awkward striptease.
  • Fanservice:
  • Faux Fluency: Holbrooke's few painful words of Hebrew make it clear that there's no way Mark Wahlberg could have actually understood his character's Israeli girlfriend.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Taking someone else's restaurant reservation. Everyone who they explain their story to, from the thugs, to the police, to the real Triplehorns, reacts this way.
  • Funny Foreigner: Holbrooke's Israeli girlfriend, who asks if Claire and Phil want to "making sex" with her and Holbrooke.
  • Gangsta Style: Phil freaks out less when the goons pull out their guns than when one of them turns it sideways. He later does it himself when he's trying to intimidate Taste.
  • Hero of Another Story: Claire's client Holbrooke Grant is heavily implied to be an experienced Action Hero, specifically a parody of James Bond, due to his Cool Cars, gadgets, being a Mr. Fanservice himself and bedding sexy girls. It's even helped by the fact he played by Mark Wahlberg, who is mostly well-known for his leading action genre roles. His role in this film and his later insufferable and exaggerated one in The Other Guys could be a case of Wahlberg Adam Westing.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: These offer us a look at what happens when Carell and Fey's improvisation goes awry.
  • Hilarity Ensues: A suburban couple on a downtown date steals someone else's reservation. As expected, hilarity ensues.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Whippit calling Claire a "skank".
  • Innocent Innuendo: Almost all of Claire's dialogue to Holbrooke.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • After Phil convinces Claire to go through with the stripper act, she repeats his own words to him when the DA wants them both.
    • Earlier, Phil and Claire come across a couple who've lost their money and IDs—then thanks to the crooked cops, the exact same thing happens to them.
    • Played for laughs when Phil and Claire's conversation of what their married life has become is echoed by Taste and Whippit... kind of.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Strip club Peppermint Hippo stands in for real-life Spearmint Rhino.
  • MacGuffin: The flash drive — or rather, the "computer sticky thing".
  • Mexican Standoff: The climax of the film.
  • Misery Lit: Parodied in the book Claire reads in book club about a young girl who gets her first period—in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
  • One Crazy Night: Phil and Claire go out to have a fancy dinner. A bizarre all-night chase with the Mafia, corrupt cops, and shirtless Mark Wahlberg ensues.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Phil is not happy with Holbrooke's nature as a Walking Shirtless Scene—especially since Claire visibly is.
  • Precision F-Strike: Phil finally has enough of Holbrooke when they return to his apartment and he's still bare-chested.
    Phil: Will you let us come in... will you let us explain everything... and will you, for the love of god... put on a fucking shirt?!
  • Running Gag:
    • Everyone acting shocked that the main characters took the Tripplehorns' reservation.
    • Claire Counting to Three to make people do things.
    • Claire walking into the drawers that Phil leaves open.
  • Scary Black Man:
    • One of the corrupted cops after the Fosters, played by Common no less.
    • Another one is the bouncer at the Peppermint Hippo, whose voice is insanely deep.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The cab driver pops the door open with a casual "That is some bullshit, I'm out, good luck," and throws himself out of the taxi when the brakes fail.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Holbrooke's girlfriend comes down his stairs wearing nothing but panties and his shirt.
    Phil: Oh look, that's where your shirt went...
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the beginning, Phil talks to Brad and they bring up Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles.
    • "At these prices, the crab had better sing and dance and introduce us to The Little Mermaid."
    • In one scene, Phil accidentally calls Will I. Am "Sam I Am".
  • Spell My Name with a "The":
    Phil: [The flash drive]'s in the park!
    Corrupt cop: Could you be more specific?
    Phil: ...the Central Park.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The Audi-with-a-taxi-stuck-to-it chase scene ends with a "BLOOOOW MEEEEE!!" when Phil and the taxi go (literally) screaming into the East River.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Seems that all Phil has to do to ensure his plans succeed is to not explain them, either onscreen or to his wife.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Holbrooke's fancy touchscreen computer, just to emphasize how cool he is. Played for Laughs when he makes several extravagant gestures, accompanied by lots of beeps and dings.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Mark Wahlberg's character Holbrooke, much to Claire's delight and Phil's annoyance.