Friday, April 16, 2010

Date Night: Not nearly as bad as David Denby thinks

Seriously: Is David Denby the most humorless man on the planet?

Because that's the only thing I can conclude after reading his pan of the new Steve Carell/Tina Fey vehicle Date Night. (I also think that any fair reader of his far more ridiculous screed Snark would come to the same conclusion.)

Not that DN is worthy of a spectacular defense. It was fine. Just fine. Both Carell and Fey have done better work. But it was also, well, watchable.

Maybe that's faint praise, but that's what I've got. I laughed a number of times. I wasn't particularly bored. And while the plot gleefully ripped off North By Northwest and The Out of Towners -- and was also tangled, loopy and at times incomprehensible -- it was not nearly as silly as the director Shawn Levy's other efforts (like Night at the Museum).

And I'll even go one better: For a studio vehicle, which is commercial as hell, both Carell and Fey do exhibit signs of character. They're both of a suburban, discontented archtype -- but they're also both sweet and fond of their partner. They want to give themselves a good time. They want to enjoy the fun of the city.

But Denby really hated this picture. He calls it "depressing" comparing it (unfavorably) to The Out of Towners (the original) which he calls "mortifyingly square." (Whatevs. The old Sandy Dennis / Jack Lemmon versus NYC picture was perfectly amusing, if not the funniest picture I've ever watched.)

You can come away from Date Night many things -- but depressed? Really?

David, don't take this the wrong way but: You're overthinking it.