DVD Review Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Directed by: Shawn Levy Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Bill Hader Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG Due Out: December 1, 2009
PLOT: Ex-museum night guard Larry (Stiller) returns with his historical friends to stop an evil Egyptian pharaoh (Azaria) staying at the Smithsonian from taking over the world.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Kids who are in elementary school will be amused, but like a trip to any mediocre museum, they probably won't remember it.
The original film's intent on education through entertainment drops the former in favor of slacking on the latter. Historical figures like Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone, Teddy Roosevelt, Sacagawea, Genghis Khan, and others, along with some famous art pieces, are turned into Saturday morning cartoon characters (and not the ones seen on PBS). We are given their quirks instead of the facts that make them so important. Therefore the audience, particularly those who are unfamiliar with these people, has nothing to take away from this proposed “educational” film except a few lame jokes. Hank Azaria’s dedication to being one of the funniest supporting guys out there continues with his portrayal of Kahmunrah, but after leaving the museum, we’re only interested in verifying whether the Egyptian tyrant had a lisp or not. The film is loaded with notable funny faces, from Ricky Gervais to Jonah Hill, but they’re all given the comedic mobility of wax figures.
MOVIE SCORE: 4/10
The Jonas Brothers "Cherub Bootcamp" - Brief fake documentary about how the Jonas Brothers prepared themselves to play their CGI cherubs. Includes one of them crying in the corner a lot, which some might consider to be a good thing.
Gag Reel - An eight minute long collection of improv humor that might earn more laughs total than the feature. A PG-13 gag reel on a family movie DVD, it’s at least relieving to see that the talent still has their comedic charm. When comparing to the comedy offered in the feature, perhaps Levy chose the wrong takes in a few instances.
Phinding Pharaoh - Azaria is shown experimenting with different accents in this test footage, which doubles as a type of gag reel. The voice of Moe from “The Simpsons” explains why he settled on Kahmunrah’s Boris Karloff-lisp, after fooling with a southern accent, a cockney accent, etc.
Deleted Scenes Commentary by director Shawn Levy Commentary by writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon The Curators of Comedy: Behind-The-Scenes of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Primate Prima Donnas Monkey Business Activities – Monkey Slap & Abel and Dexter’s Flights of Fancy Trailers
EXTRAS SCORE: 5/10
Two commentary tracks, a handful of extra footage, and a behind the scenes feature makes disc one a decently rounded collection of extras. Disc two, however, is the type of packaging concocted in DVD hell. “Monkey Mischief” is the antithesis of fun; it’s a beat down of the same joke (monkeys are real actors too, ha ha!) divided into three lame five-minute extras. Maybe the hijinks would be amusing if featured in one extra, but even the cutesy Jo Bros video is more tolerable.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10