Review - Night at the Museum


Ben Stiller and Robin Williams in Night at the Museum

Ben Stiller and Robin Williams in Night at the Museum

 

 

One of Disney’s old standbys is the perky live-action comedy, of the sort they used to put out on the 1960s, invariably starring Dean Jones and a gaggle of pesky kids, plus a cute animal or two. These movies were cute and zippy and had a gee-whizz wholesomeness that was easy to mock but hard to hate. Night at the Museum drills right into that vein, and even gives a small part to Dick Van Dyke, king of Disney’s live-action magnum opus, Mary Poppins. But he’s not the star. Instead there’s an appropriately bumbling Ben Stiller fitting right into the Van Dyke mould, as the hapless, hopeless dad who takes a job at a Museum of Natural History, only to discover that at night the exhibits come to life, thanks to a magical ancient Egyptian tablet, or something. The support cast is strong: Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs as what must be the oldest security guards on the planet – they’re retiring, we’re told, but that still doesn’t quite explain how gents in their 80s are holding down jobs where they might be expected to get physical. Whatever. There’s also a bickering Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan as a diminutive cowboy and a miniature Roman centurion, Robin Williams as a statue of Teddy Roosevelt back to boombastic life, and Ricky Gervais who, aware of the John Cleese rule, it seems (acclaimed British comics often killing US films stone dead), plays his tiny role as the dorkish museum boss as someone who can’t speak.

You won’t like this if you’re hoping for sophisticated comedy, but it’s a fun piece of lightheardedness, done well, with the CG creations – a dinosaur running amok being a high point – never too threatening or convincing. I’m going to make obvious what a lot of critics seem to have missed about this movie – it’s for kids. Sure, a couple of jokes are in there for beleaguered parents in for the long haul, but it isn’t for grown-ups. Not even vaguely. The kids might not know who Teddy Roosevelt is, and they might wonder why the film seems so insistent on the importance of reading, but apart from that and the obviously downplayed icky love stuff with Carla Gugino, it’s clearly old school Disney that’s the target, and director Shawn Levy and team hit it. You wouldn’t want another one, though, would you?

 

Night at the Museum – Buy it/watch it at Amazon

 

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2006

 

 

 

 

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imdb poster Night at the Museum
Night at the Museum
Run time: 108 min
Rating: 6.4
Genres: Action | Adventure | Comedy
Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Stars: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Ricky Gervais
Trivia: A newly recruited night security guard at the Museum of Natural History discovers that an ancient curse causes the animals and exhibits on display to come to life and wreak havoc.
Storyline In New York, unemployed and divorced Larry Daley is a complete loser. His son Nick is very disappointed with his father who is going to be evicted. Larry accepts the job of night watchman in the Museum of Natural History and takes the place of three old security guards that have just retired in order to raise some money and pay his bills. On his first shift, Larry soon realizes that everything at the museum is not as it seems as the statues begin to come to life after the sun sets. The Museum transforms into complete chaos with the inexperienced Larry in charge as he learns that an old Egyptian stone that came to the Museum in 1950 brings these statues to life until dawn. When Larry brings his son to spend a night with him, the three old guards break into the Museum to try to steal the magical stone. Larry organizes all the historic characters to help him stop the criminals and save the museum. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Plot Keywords: museum, museum of natural history, watchman, night watchman, chaos
Box Office Budget: $110,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: £7,690,312 (UK) (29 December 2006)
Gross: $250,863,268 (USA) (22 June 2007)