Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There’s a reason this movie is about to make 200 hundred million at the box office, despite the fact it’s not very good.  Whenever a film doesn’t offer up a screener for critics, we all know that’s a good sign that a film probably won’t be worth the stock it was shot on, but I think this thing, similar to the Home Alone series of films is fairly critic proof.  Because we’re living in depressed times with an insane war raging overseas, unemployment is fairly high, jobs being outsourced to India and a gallon of gas costing 2-plus bucks, folks need some mindless, flashy entertainment requiring virtually no thought, and allows you to sit back and watch the pretty pictures flicker in front of your eyes.  ‘Night at the Museum’ fills that bill wonderfully.

Ben Stiller is Larry Daley, a divorced inventor who created the snapper, as opposed to the clapper, and is in desperate need of a job or his ex-wife won’t let his 10-year old son Nick (Jake Cherry) hang out with him anymore.  Larry takes a job as the night watchman at the New York museum of Natural History, as the three previous night watchmen (Bill Cobb, Dick VanDyke, and Mickey Rooney) are being relieved due to cost cutting measures.  Why the museum has three septuagenarian night guards shining flashlights on nothing could be a reason they’re going out business.  But as this movie goes along, you will notice that nothing in it happens because it should happen, and nothing exist because it should exist.  Everything happens only because someone scribbled it in the script somewhere.

Nonetheless, all the wax figures come to life when the sunsets giving heartbeats to the likes of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedidiah the cowboy (Owen Wilson), Ocatavius the Roman general (Steve Coogan) as well as Huns, cavemen, dinosaurs

and a monkey that pisses on people.  All of this happens because of some 24k magic gold medallion belonging to the mummy of Akmenrah.  Somewhere in this mess they’ve buried a plot as the three old guards are plotting to steal the medallion so they can stay young forever or something.

As a movie goes, that would be one with a concise narrative, tight structure, connected plot points and thrilling resolutions, ‘Night at the Museum’ is a total failure.  About ten minutes in, it would seem that the screen writers, the same masterminds who brought us the truly awful ‘The Pacifier’ and ‘Herbie Fully Loaded’ decided that any and all plot holes can be easily covered up by a pissing monkey or a coconut to the head.  Very little in this movie makes hardly any sense at all, but it’s all good though, because director Steve Levy, can direct a coconut falling on the head of some dude or a pissing monkey about as well as anybody.  This is the man that bought us the remake of the ‘Pink Panther’ and the ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ series so the film is in the right hands.  I mean when Teddy Roosevelt warns Larry that if one of the wax figures is outside when the sun comes out, all of the wax figures will turn to dust, you clutch your chest and hope and pray that one of the wax figures doesn’t get caught when the sun comes up.  Sadly, a caveman gets caught out at sunrise and turns to dust, but all of the other figures seem to be fine.  Teddy could have at least blessed us with a ‘my bad’ or something.

So we can easily establish that as a movie ‘Night at the Museum’ is fairly crappy, but does have some charms.  Ben Stiller has pretty much mastered whatever that thing is he does, the film has tons of frenetic energy and lots and lots of CGI induced mayhem.  It has Carla Gugino in it, whose traffic stopping figure and room brightening face makes any production worth watching, as long as she’s in the scene that is.  And it has a few funny moments in it as well.  Not a lot, but a few.  And my son liked it.  As we have established, he likes everything, but nonetheless he liked it.  So if you haven’t liquored away too many brain cells in your reckless youth and have a few more to waste, grab the kids, if you haven’t already, and I got 200 hundred million dollars that says you have, and run on down to the multi to check out ‘Night at the Museum’.

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