Date Night, a modest comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey, is challenging three 3D blockbusters at the box office this weekend, and several industry observers are predicting a David-vs-Goliath result. Certainly the critics, on the whole, are giving it far better treatment than they did the Goliaths. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times loves the preposterous mistaken-identity plot. " Date Night is funny because, against all odds, it is involving," he writes. "Each crazy step in the bizarre plot made a certain sense because it followed from what went before." Moreover he expresses hope that it will encourage movie producers to "realize that comedy emerges from characters and situations and can't be manufactured from manic stunts and overkill." Claudia Puig in USA Today begins her review by praising the movie as "absurd and wildly amusing ... superbly paced, cleverly plotted and hilarious from start to finish." She ends it by writing " Date Night is simply irresistible." Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer ups the praise further, calling the movie a "tour de force." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post is less generous in doling out accolades. Nevertheless, he describes the movie as "a reasonably amusing way to pass Saturday night with a significant other." (He, like other critics, also advises sticking around for the outtakes, which, he says, "are funnier than anything in the movie.") That's pretty much the way Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News regards the movie, too. " Date Night isn't great," he remarks. "But it's fine, funny enough to keep you engaged." But Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe & Mail dismisses it as "sort of funny, now and then, here and there, some of the time. Hey, it's the movie biz." Indeed Lisa Kennedy in the Denver Post speculates that there probably came a time when studio execs probably reasoned, "'Well, we could make a deft comedy, but why? The familiar will do the box-office trick just fine.'" She then adds "Perhaps that sounds cynical."

09/04/2010