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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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James: This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20). 
<p>James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani. </p><p>Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!” </p><p>The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life. </p><p>On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them...” (Luke 9:54-55). </p><p>James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a). </p><p>This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t need so much to talk about God but to allow people to feel how God lives within us, that’s our work.

 
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