The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
Steve Carell and Tina Fey star in this comedy. After using another couples name to get into a fancy restaurant, things go bad when they are mistaken for that couple who apparently have mobsters after them.
Phil ( Steve Carell) and Claire ( Tina Fey) Foster are a typical, bored couple from the suburbs of New Jersey. They wake up early to attend to their two children, go to work, Phil as a tax consultant and Claire as a real estate agent, and come home wiped to again attend to the kids. Their one piece of solace is the weekly "date night", which consists of them going to the same restaurant every time, get the same food, and make the same inane conversation.
Phil and Claire both start to question if they too are in a rut. On the next date night, Claire gets really dressed up and this prompts Phil to take her into New York City to a very upscale seafood restaurant called Claw. Of course, since it is so upscale, they are unable to get a table. When a hostess comes around asking for "Tripplehorn's, party of two", Phil takes the opportunity and the Fosters take the table.
Near the end of the meal, the couple is approached by two tough acting men ( Common and Jimmi Simpson). They take the Fosters out into the alley and, thinking they were actually the Tripplehorns, demand that they
Collins & Armstrong
give up the flash drive they supposedly have so they can give it Joe Miletto ( Ray Liotta). Phil, under duress, tells them that the flash drive is in a boat house in Central Park. When they get there, Phil takes the distraction to knock the two men out. The Foster's escape from the two men and head to the local police precinct to tell their story to Detective Arroyo ( Taraji P. Henson). As they are talking to her, the two men that were chasing them also enter the precinct, but as cops. It turns out that they are Detectives Collins and Armstrong.
The couple escape the police station and come up with the idea to steal
the Tripplehorn's phone number from the restaurant waiting list. While Claire distracts the hostess ( Olivia Munn), Phil writes down the number. Claire states a former client may be able to help the couple, prompting them to break into a local real estate branch to find the residential location of Holbrooke Grant ( Mark Wahlberg). Holbrooke works in private security for varying military institutions and, after some persuading, helps the Foster's locate the Tripplehorns.
The Fosters then go to the home of Chase "Taste" Tripplehorn ( James Franco) and his girlfriend "Whip It" ( Mila Kunis). After some bickering,
"Taste" & "Whip it"
Taste reveals that he still has the flash drive and gives it to the Foster's as he and Whip It book out of the apartment. As the Fosters are leaving, Detectives Collins and Armstrong show up and begin shooting at them. The Foster's make their getaway in the stolen Audi from Holbrooke, but crash head first into a taxi, which gets stuck to the front grill. During the ensuing high speed chase, Phil is able to view the contents of the flash drive and sees there are blackmail images of District Attorney Frank Crenshaw ( William Fichtner) on it. However, the car with the flash drive in it, end up in the river.
Phil makes one final attempt at a plan, but they have to get Holbrooke's help again. Phil is able to persuade him to help even after crashing his car
and stealing an antique gun. The Foster's go to the Pink Hippo, an adult night club that Crenshaw like to frequent. They get close enough to him to let him know who they are, which prompts Crenshaw to call Detectives Collins and Armstrong out of thin air. They all go to the roof of the club where they are joined by Miletto and his crew. During the ensuing argument, both Crenshaw and Miletto incriminate themselves in front of the Fosters. This works out because Phil had been wired by Holbrooke. In the nick of time, the NYPD, led by Detective Arroyo, show up to wrap everything up.
Phil and Claire return home after an impromptu "dinner" at a NYC dinner to finish off their wild evening.
Reception and Box Office
The movie received mixed reviews, but more good then bad. It currently has a 67% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which calls it an "uneasy blend of action and comedy . . . but Steve Carell and Tina Fey still manage to shine through most of the movie's flaws."
Some comments from "top critics" on Rotten Tomatoes:
A reasonably amusing way to pass Saturday night with a significant other. - Lou Lumenick, New York Post
Fey, in particular, finds herself in the situation of a prima ballerina unaccountably dancing with the Rockettes. - David Denby, New Yorker
It is diverting, and it gives these two their first chance to work together, yet you can't help but wish that the film functioned on as high a level as its stars do. - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Here’s proof that Tina Fey and Steve Carell could squeeze laughs out of a phone book. - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The movie was made on a reported $55 million budget and made its money back. It grossed around $98 million domestically and $54 million in foreign markets for a total of around $152 million. It reached a peak of #2 in the box office in its first week when it also had its biggest weekend haul at $25 million. It was beaten by the Clash of the Titans remake.