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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 Vianney: A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies. 
<p>His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained. </p><p>Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.) </p><p>With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home. </p><p>His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day. </p><p>Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil. </p><p>Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide.</p> American Catholic Blog The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold on to. –Pope Francis

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Do you know a priest who reminds you of St. John Vianney? Send him an e-card to thank him for his ministry.

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