Director Shawn Levy's own life inspired the movie Date Night, about reigniting the excitement in a marriage stuck in family life routines. Though highly original, the film, which opens April 8-9, draws on several others for its mash-up of romantic-comedy and action-adventure.
Tina Fey and Steve Carell are a perfect pair as down-to-earth suburban parents dining out in a hip Manhattan eatery for some romance time away from the kids - until the night takes a wild turn. The comic couple's chemistry is reminiscent of screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant about the perilous mix up of two leopards.
Films that Levy ( Night at the Museum, The Pink Panther) considered for this film include action comedies Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours. But Date Night is a hybrid, he says. "First and foremost a comedy, it also has a hefty dose of action, as well as a lot of heart."
He also connects to the mistaken identity theme from North by Northwest. Date Night's crazy caper happens when the Fosters take a table reservation for the Tripplehorns. What ensues is a robbery, a shootout, a showdown with a mobster in a strip club, and a car chase with a conjoined cab and borrowed Audi R8 as the husband and wife team play detective, cop, and action hero.
Examples of other films sharing a similar theme about suburbanites shaking up domestic discontent include:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as a bored couple hired to assassinate each other,
The Incredibles (2004), an animated tale of former superheroes settled in the suburbs, and
True Lies (1994) with Jamie Lee Curtis discovering her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger is a secret agent.
Levy also references Wizard of Oz - "Along the way, they're being affected and changed by the people they meet, and I just thought wouldn't it be fun if at every turn of the road, you're surprised all over again by who has suddenly appeared in this movie."
James Franco ( Milk) plays a dru drug dealer named Taste whose reservation they borrowed, Mark Wahlberg ( The Lovely Bones) portrays a security expert and former client who helps the couple, and Mark Ruffalo ( Shutter Island) is a friend whose marriage breakup triggers the fateful evening.
Besides the successful US version of The Office, Carell's films include Get Smart, with Anne Hathaway, Little Miss Sunshine and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which he co-wrote with director Judd Apatow ( Knocked Up).
Emmy and Golden Globe winner for television show 30 Rock, Fey wrote and starred in Mean Girls and Baby Mama. Asked how to reinvigorate a relationship with a spouse? Tina Fey says: "Go on a date night and see Date Night."
The film is known as
Broken Date in South Korea,
Crazy Night in Manhattan in Italy,
Gangster for a Night in Germany, and
An Out of the Ordinary Night in Mexico.
The duo interviewed each other about the film for Cinemax's show, "Max 60 Seconds:"