Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Rated PG; Directed by Shawn Levy; Starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan; Ricky Gervais; Bill Hader
Fans of the first Night at the Museum film will find things to enjoy in this sequel. For those of you who didn’t enjoy the first movie, well, get ready for more of the same. This is a loud, overdone, ill-plotted movie. Yes, the special effects are great, but a good story would have been a nice idea.
Larry (Ben Stiller), who was night guard at the Natural History Museum in New York City, has moved on to bigger and better things. He’s the owner of a company that sells his inventions via infomercials. Yet he still manages to drop by and visit his old pals at the museum. Unfortunately, he discovers at the last minute that all his museum buddies, including little Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan), are headed off to the archives at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Larry tries to stop this, but only goes into action when he learns that the Egyptian tablet that brings his friends to life every night is also headed to the Smithsonian. The thought that the Smithsonian exhibits will waken has him rushing off to stop the mayhem.
Okay, that’s the set-up. It’s what happens when he gets to the Smithsonian that pushes things downhill. There are bad guys (Hank Azaria as an ancient pharaoh), good guys (Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart), and lots of other people and things that roar to life. If only the writers had managed to do something with all of this. Wasted opportunities include the guest spot of Jonah Hill as another guard. Considering the lack of excitement that Stiller brings to his role, Hill as a main character could have made the movie more entertaining.
Director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, The Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen) goes for loud action at the expense of story. There are a few moments that do achieve a crazy level of humor. Watching little Octavius run through the grass tickles the funny bone. Too bad more of these moments did not make an appearance in the film. Some of the cast try hard. Hank Azaria and Amy Adams especially work their charm, but even they can’t help the movie.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian may make the kids happy, and even entertain some adults, but as a comedy, the movie falls flat. Better plotting, stronger characterization, and less frantic direction will help if we’re stuck with another sequel.