Date Night (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for sexual and crude content throughout, language, some violence and a drug reference.
Length: 88 minutes
Grade: C-DBB=C+
Budget: $55 million
Box Office: $171 million (99 U.S., 54 Intl., 18 DVD)

Written by: John Klausner (Shrek Forever After and Shrek the Third)
Directed by: Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum 1+2, Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Just Married)
Starring: Steve Carell and Tina Fey
With: Mark Wahlberg, Common, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Ray Liotta.

Summary: When a suburban couple decides to have a special date night in the city, they are mistaken for a couple of criminals and must find a way to stay alive long enough to solve their problem while being hounded by corrupt cops.

Entertainment Value: C-
I like Tina Fey a lot. A lot of other people like Steve Carell. Ironically, the funniest parts involved Mark Wahlberg. I had pretty high hopes for this movie, but the overall result made perfect sense after I saw who wrote the script. It is of course a ridiculous plot, but it’s funny enough often enough to not be completely unworthy of a watch.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity D, Violence C, Language D
There is moderate alcohol consumption in one scene and apparently a drug reference. There are several scenes of danger where people are threatened with guns and one very prolonged car chase scene. Language alone would make this PG-13, and I would have given it an R for language, quite frankly. This is as close to the line as they could go and not be pushed into an R. But the more surprising part was sexuality, which is mostly just discussions throughout the movie, but then at the end there is one long scene in a strip club and Tina Fey and Steve Carrell pole dance while the District Attorney looks on in lustful enthusiasm. It had already seemed to be a borderline R to me, but that scene (even without nudity) made it an R, or R-15 at least.

Significant Content: B
Ordinary life is a grinding challenge to even well-intended people who want to keep a healthy romance alive. It’s easy for people to become too well-adjusted to each other. Some marriages are dying even when they seem okay on the outside. When our spouses are disappointing us, there’s a good chance they feel it in themselves, too. Men and women have very different ideas of what tempts them.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
Although this is sold as a comedic action flick, the relationship stuff is certainly interesting. And as has quite nicely become the fashion lately, it’s brutally honest about things people sometimes just don’t realize happen to everyone. I can easily imagine married couples leaving this movie and wanting to talk about some of this stuff afterwards. Even if they don’t work with everyone, movies that give people an excuse to discuss uncomfortable things have quite a bit of value.

Discussion Questions:
~Phil and Claire’s favorite game is to have imaginary conversations while looking at other couples in the restaurant a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. What do you think of this habit? Is it loving? Is it contemptuous? Do you think these conversations bond them with each other or are unhealthy? Would they ever let those other people hear them?
~Having a “date night” each week is something a lot of couples have taken to doing as a way of preserving alone time and romance. Can such a night become it’s own sort of chore and actually undermine the point of having one? What do you think of having a “date night?”

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~Shirtless Mark Wahlberg. Are Phil’s concerns about him fair?
~The discussion in the car about husbands fantasizing about other women and wives (mothers) fantasizing about being alone. Does this fit your experience? How many husbands realize that this is what mothers dream of? How many women realize that this is what men dream of? Would you characterize the desire to be left alone as a sin in the same way that the desire to have an affair is? Is isolation merely healthy or is it anti-social or anti-community?
~In the restaurant watching in disbelief as the married couple makes out. Do you think most people in marriages wish they had that sort of spark? Do you think that’s a healthy desire or sort of like wishing you were young again? How realistic is it to think that every couple will have ongoing passion of such a demonstrative sort?
~Finding out about their friends getting a divorce. What do you think about the idea that married people would be more like roommates than lovers? Does that seem like a problem? How important is friendship as opposed to passion in a marriage?
~The very opening scene with Blitzkrieg Bop being played while they get ready for work. What is this scene trying to say?
Overall Grade: C+
Not as funny nor as entertaining as I expected, but some interesting things to think about, nevertheless.

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