Wait a second.
Date Night scored a 65% fresh Tomatometer and 56 Metascore and opened to a $25-million weekend at the box office (second to Clash of the Titans due to premium 3D prices, not admissions) and scored a B Cinemascore. The LAT’s Patrick Goldstein loathed the comedy (which unlike execrable Clash of the Titans or Hot Tub Time Machine, actually holds some appeal to women) enough to trash Twentieth Century Fox as an assembly-line product factory (“the Hollywood equivalent of Wall Mart”).
Goldstein has a habit of Fox-bashing. While the studio churns out its share of drek, it also brought us James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and Peter Weir’s Master and Commander, among other risky projects. Goldstein also asserts that many other Hollywood stars could have performed the hapless couple played by Tina Fey and Steve Carell just as well.
I disagree. To the extent that the action comedy rises above conventional competence (the writing, as Goldstein suggests, is standard-issue), the actors make that so. According to both Fey and Carell (who have great screen chemistry), the Second City grads both improvised their way through the movie, encouraged by director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum), who managed as well as anyone could to elevate the material so that adults like me could enjoy it. I laughed a lot.
Compared to most of the studio crap out there, Date Night looks pretty good. I know, I’m damning with faint praise. Truth is, I too would rather be watching HBO. But I am rooting for the studios to stay in the business of catering to audiences other than dumb young males, and Date Night is a mainstream commercial romantic comedy for adults. If the studios cede smart grown-up fare to cable, adults will have no reason to go out to the movies at all.