Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Directed by: Shawn Levy Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Hank Azaria Running Time: 1 hr 35 min Rating: PG
Plot: Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now a successful entrepreneur with his own line of useful, household inventions. He is soon pulled into a rushed and semi-coherent plotline that somehow lands him in a wild battle at the Smithsonian Museum. With regards to plot, all plausibility is thrown out the window in favor of a supremely cool idea.
Who’s It For? Younger kids—I’d say between 7 and 12.
Expectations: I was extremely excited about the first movie and then it fizzled out like a soggy firecracker, so this time around, my expectations were much more realistic.
Actors: Ben Stiller as Larry Daley: This character is boring and the writing is predictable enough to be fill in the blanks, which I hate. You get any other actor in this part and no one goes to see this movie. Stiller is part of the reason why the movie is actually entertaining enough to qualify as tolerable. Score: 6
Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart: Adams has really grown on me since Enchanted and I loved her mousy, repressed melancholy in Doubt. So I forgave the slightly silly caricature, because Adams is still incredibly enjoyable. She looks fabulous in a curly red bob and few could successfully pull off the beige, skin-tight trousers, so we put her in the same category as Stiller: way too good for this movie. Score: 6
Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith: Here’s my theory—if you let Wilson adlib from the sidelines, he’s the consummate scene stealer; if you put him front and center, take away his wiggle room, and give him nothing to work with other than sub par writing and it’s like he’s a completely different person. Jedediah was given a much bigger role in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, but there was no substance behind the role. So, like Stiller and Adams before him, we’re going to file Wilson under “too good for this movie.” Score: 6
Talking: The writing is purely functional. Here’s a useful simile: fun, fast dialogue in a movie is like a brand new, bottle green Corvette; the dialogue in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is like a 1982 Yugo with high mileage. Score: 3
Sights: Watching artifacts and historical figures come to life is the only reason to see this movie. On the other hand, you have to sit through a good thirty seconds of Ben Stiller slapping a monkey, and monkey slapping ain’t that funny. Score: 5
Sounds: Kidsy—lots of drums and horns to signify action and adventure. Befitting the genre, but in a blah, unoriginal way. The music, like the rest of the movie, was present as in there, but without any impact. Score: 5
Best Scene: The best scene also made me feel so guilty for enjoying it, I felt like I lost a percentage of my soul to some darker power. I shouldn’t enjoy watching a giant statue of Abe Lincoln kicking ass. I shouldn’t think to myself, “Yeah! Go, Abe, go!” It’s just levels and levels of all varieties of wrong.
Ending: Okay. And I suppose I mean that both as a rating system and as a sign of resignation. If you want the full effect, you can picture me shrugging my shoulders. Not horrible; not great—just there, existing, like a rock or a piece of fuzz.
Questions: Why is it still an acceptable plot device to have the female protagonist choosing horribly inopportune moments to spring a dialogue about love on the male protagonist? Man: We only have one hour! We have to hurry or so and so will be fed to the crocodiles! Woman: Wait! Let’s pause here unnecessarily so I can be needy and seek affirmation! Fill that void and complete me!
Rewatchability: The kids will want to see it again. Once is enough for anyone over 12.
What can I say? It’s just another below average movie. Hollywood took a cool idea and sucked the life right out of it, but that’s nothing new. Parents will take their kids to see it, and the studio will make a decent amount of money, and then Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian will go away and no one will ever think about it again. It’s like the cheapo Happy Meal toy—diverting for about ten seconds and then in the trash it goes. Note to all you Ben Stiller fans: just rent Tropic Thunder and get your fix that way. Trust me, it’s much more satisfying.
Final Score: 5/10