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Mistaken Identity Turns 'Date Night' Into Madcap Escapade

  • Alan Silverman

Tina Fey (Claire Foster) and Steve Carell (Phil Foster) star in 'Date Night;' Mark Wahlberg spends much of the movie shirtless as a handsome playboy security expert who helps the Fosters escape

Tina Fey (Claire Foster) and Steve Carell (Phil Foster) star in 'Date Night;' Mark Wahlberg spends much of the movie shirtless as a handsome playboy security expert who helps the Fosters escape

A husband and wife from suburban New Jersey long for a romantic night out in New York City; but when they accidentally get mixed up with a crime boss, corrupt cops and blackmail, they are off and running on a madcap escapade to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Comic actors Tina Fey and Steve Carell co-star in the movie,"Date Night," as Phil and Claire Foster.

The Fosters are devoted parents, even when the kids storm into their bedroom before dawn.

Their routine includes one evening a week to themselves: a "Date Night," usually at the neighborhood restaurant, usually spent talking about the family. Desperately hoping to rekindle their romance, Phil tries something more elaborate: a posh, impossible-to-get-in hot spot in nearby New York City.

Without a reservation, however, they are doomed to wait for hours in the bar until Phil notices the hostess's unanswered call for the next party to be seated.

"Tripplehorn, party of two?"
"Maybe we should go someplace else."
"I want tonight to be different."
"Tripplehorn?"
"Us!"
"What are you doing?"
"We are the Tripplehorns."
"Great."


But along with the gourmet food, two muscular men arrive at their table and order the Tripplehorns (really the Fosters) outside into a darkened alley.

"I want to talk to your boss right now."
"I think we both know that's not going to happen, Mr. Tripplehorn …or should I say Phil Foster?"
"Next time you make a dinner reservation don't use the same alias as your ransom notes, genius."
"Let me explain."


It is simply a case of mistaken identity, Claire explains; but the goons aren't buying it.

The Fosters somehow escape and the chase is on, turning this "Date Night" into an absurd adventure neither of them could have imagined.

Steve Carell stars in a hit TV series (the American version of the British show "The Office") and has headlined several successful movies including "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Carell says he and co-star Tina Fey had fun improvising on "Date Night."

"You know, we'd always do the script as written because it was very strong and didn't need to be changed; but then once we had it to our satisfaction we'd open it up and play around," he said. "So it's hard to determine what was ad-libbed and what wasn't.

Fey plays eternally single comedy writer Liz Lemon on her hit TV series "30 Rock" and says she jumped at the chance to play Claire, an ordinary wife and mother.

"We really wanted this couple to feel truthful and realistic," she said."They weren't a couple who hate each other and fighting all the time; they were just a real couple kind of worn down by their everyday lives and struggling to try to come together; and this night sparks that for them. So I think we tried to pursue jokes and beats that felt true to that."

"I always wanted to do something with Steve and the idea that it was a married couple who are grown people appealed to me because that's who we are in real life and you can't keep making a movie about your wedding," Fey continued. "At a certain point you're getting up there [in age] and I just felt like this is a movie that, if my husband and I got to go out, we'd actually want to go see this movie and this topic.

Director Shawn Levy, whose action-comedies include the recent remake of "The Pink Panther" and the two "Night At The Museum" hits, says the fun in "Date Night" springs from how well his stars understood this ordinary couple thrust into extraordinary circumstances.

"All I wanted to do was to make a funny movie that could also be honest about some aspects of grown-up life; and to make a movie that was, hopefully, more relatable than your standard comedy," he said.

"We didn't have a reservation so we took yours and now they that we're you."
"You just took our reservation?"
"What kind of people are you?"


"Date Night" also features James Franco and Mila Kunis as the real Tripplehorns …well, actually, the couple who used that alias for the restaurant reservation. Mark Wahlberg spends much of the movie shirtless as a handsome playboy security expert who helps the Fosters escape.

And Taraji P. Henson is the NYPD detective trying to sort it all out.

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