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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Date Night

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Occasionally, amid the frenetic proceedings of the romantic comedy-action blend "Date Night" (Fox), the tale's two protagonists—an ordinary married couple from suburban New Jersey—pause to reflect on their enduring commitment to each other and on the threat posed to the vitality of their union by the exhausting demands of professional life and child rearing.

But these well-intentioned elements of Josh Klausner's script are eventually overwhelmed by an increasingly seedy milieu and by the wayward behavior of a number of the characters the pair encounter during the unexpected nocturnal odyssey through the streets of Manhattan on which the plot—which hinges on a case of mistaken identity—launches them.

Anxious to get out of their rut, financial adviser Phil (Steve Carell) and real estate agent Claire (Tina Fey) Foster spontaneously decide to shift the venue of their weekly date night from a local tavern to a popular and pricey Gotham restaurant. With no reservation and no hope of ever being seated, they take the opportunity of another couple's no-show to snag the table they had reserved under the name Tripplehorn.

As the mild-mannered Fosters soon discover, however, Tripplehorn is an alias used by two lowlifes (James Franco and Mila Kunis)—he a drug dealer and she a stripper—who are involved in a blackmail scheme that has roused the ire of local mob boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta).

Pursued by two of Miletto's thugs (played by Common and Jimmi Simpson), Phil and Claire turn for help to a former client of hers, James Bond-like international intelligence agent Holbrooke Grant (Mark Wahlberg). Buff Holbrooke—whose perpetual shirtlessness and flirtations with Claire are played for laughs—proves willing to cooperate, despite the fact that the Fosters' visit has interrupted his commitment-free bedroom frolic with a female Israeli agent of his acquaintance.

As directed by Shawn Levy, the Fosters' further adventures bring them into contact with the cohabiting duo whose absence from the eatery started all the misery, and lead on to an underground sex club, awash in scantily clad, pole-dancing bimbos, where they briefly find themselves forced to entertain a powerful patron with perverse tastes.

Though their travails aid Phil and Claire to rekindle their flickering love for each other, and though the well-paired Carell and Fey provide at least a few scenes of enjoyable, understated humor, the sordid doings of the comic foils they meet on their frequently bullet-ridden journey preclude endorsement for most viewers.

The film contains considerable, though bloodless, action violence, partial rear nudity, much sexual humor, including gags about casual sex, masturbation and aberrant practices, at least one use of profanity and of the F-word and some crude and crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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John of Capistrano: It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events. 
<p>Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times. </p><p>John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later. </p><p>His preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion. </p><p>The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the "Spirituals" were freed from interference in their stricter observance. </p><p>He helped bring about a reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches, unfortunately only a brief arrangement. </p><p>When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died October 23, 1456.</p> American Catholic Blog When we are linked by the power of prayer, we as it were, hold each other’s hand as we walk side by side along a slippery path; and thus by the bounteous disposition of charity, it comes about that the harder each one leans on the other, the more firmly we are riveted together in brotherly love. —St. Gregory the Great

 
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