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He knows all about museum adventures and date nights

Director Shawn Levy says he has a soft spot for the concept behind his hit film “Date Night,” which was released this week on DVD and Blu-ray.

“I just really liked how some simple, relatable act, such as taking someone else’s dinner reservation, could end up with your life being threatened,” said Levy, who also directed both “Night at the Museum” movies.

“Date Night” resonated with moviegoers too -- after a decent first weekend, it went on to gross about $100 million this year.

“The first ‘Night at the Museum’ had a similar sort of solid-but-not-extraordinary opening, but it just hung around and hung around, benefiting from some really good word-of-mouth,” said Levy, who lives in Pacific Palisades with his wife and three daughters (a fourth is due in December). “While being for a very different demographic, ‘Date Night’ had similar kind of traction. We ended up doing real well.”

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He does OK on weekends too.

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Dinner and a movie

One of our favorite restaurants is actually where I came up with the basic idea for “Date Night,” and that’s Giorgio Baldi, a small but fabulous Italian place in Santa Monica. It’s one of our frequent haunts, and as we were sitting there one night like always and I was ordering the Dover sole for about the 50th time, I looked over at my wife and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to do a movie about the rituals of marriage, and what might happen if those rituals got blown to smithereens one night?” That was the beginning of “Date Night,” and it was at Giorgio’s.

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Day trips

On a Saturday, we might take the kids over to Will Rogers State Park and let them run around on the polo field. And we also like Douglas Park in Santa Monica, where the kids love feeding the ducks at that pond in the middle. And of course the beach is always nice.

It’s always fun to take trips to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Broad Contemporary right there at LACMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And we also enjoy just going to see a flick at the Third Street Promenade.

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Family first

For a Sunday brunch, I like Blue Plate on Montana, and the Farmers Market in Pacific Palisades is perfect for the whole family. We just walk around and eat the free samples -- it has a great small-town village vibe.

Like the characters in the film, my nonworking life is consumed by parenthood, and I often joke that “There’s no exhaustion like Sunday night.” And one of our favorite places for a nice, early Sunday dinner is Toscana, and it’s also a really fun place to take the kids. It has fantastic food and the great, warm atmosphere of a neighborhood hangout. I really like the tomato, cucumber and onion salad, and for a main course, I’d either have the gnocchi Bolognese or the special spaghetti with lobster, which is outstanding.

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mark.sachs@latimes.com


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