Brooks Barnes has written a post-Xmas N.Y. Times piece about how big-studio crap doesn’t float anymore, and how movies have to be sharp and dynamic and pushed along these days by social-network organs (and conversation-starters like HE?) or it’s hasta la vista, baby. Slick sludge ain’t doin’ it no more. Which explains this weekend’s modest success of Little Fockers.

There were plenty of 2010 films “clinging to the tried and true in 2010,” Barnes writes. “Humdrum remakes like The Wolfman and The A-Team; star vehicles like Killers with Ashton Kutcher and The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp; and shoddy sequels like Sex and the City 2. All arrived at theaters with marketing thunder intended to fill multiplexes on opening weekend, no matter the quality of the film.

“But the audience pushed back. One by one, these expensive yet middle-of-the-road pictures delivered disappointing results or flat-out flopped.

“Meanwhile, gambles on original concepts paid off. Inception, a complicated thriller about dream invaders, racked up more than $825 million in global ticket sales; The Social Network has so far delivered $192 million, a stellar result for a highbrow drama.

“As a result, studios are finally and fully conceding that moviegoers, armed with Facebook and other networking tools and concerned about escalating ticket prices, are holding them to higher standards. The product has to be good.” Or at least it can’t blow chunks. And it really helps if a new movie is, you know, really something. Yep, things sure are different these days.