NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN
History Comes Alive Again
Release Date: May 22, 2009
Starring: Ben Stiller Amy Adams, Owen
Wilson, Hank Azaria, Robin
Williams, Steve Coogan,
Christopher Guest, Bill Hader,
Mizuo Peck, Ricky Gervais, and
the voice of Eugene Levy
Audience: All ages
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox/News Corp.
Director: Shawn Levy
Executive Producer: Thomas M. Hammel, Josh
McLaglen and Mark Radcliffe
Producer: Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus and
Writer: Robert Ben Garant and Thomas
Address Comments To:Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO of News Corp.
Peter Chernin, President/COO of The Fox Group
Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Chairmen/CEO
Fox Filmed Entertainment
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
(Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic)
10201 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-1000
The story opens with Larry Daley, the night guard played by Ben Stiller, enjoying great financial success as the inventor of Daley Products, a series of infomercial products. Larry has just finished his latest invention, a glow in the dark flashlight, but something is missing in his life. His dissatisfaction leads him back to his old haunt, the Museum of Natural History.
Larry is sad to discover that the museum is mothballing his favorite exhibits, and some of his dearest friends, including Jedediah the cowboy, Octavius the Roman general, Zander the monkey, and Sakajawea. The exhibits are off to be stored underneath the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
One night, Larry receives a frantic distress call from Jedediah. Zander took the tablet that makes the exhibits come alive, and now the Egyptian ruler, King Kahmunrah is threatening Larry’s friends to hand it over. The king is in a very nasty mood after 3,000 years of slumber.
[Spoilers may follow] Larry rushes to Washington to help his friends. There, below the Smithsonian, he discovers that Kahmunrah has joined forces with Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte and Al Capone. They plan to use the magical tablet to awaken a demonic army from the underworld and rule the world. It’s up to Larry and his friends, which now also include General George Custer and Amelia Earhart, to stop them. Along the way, they get help from the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial, the Tuskegee Airmen and some tiny Albert Einstein bubblehead dolls.
This NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM sequel takes off right away with Larry getting the frantic call from Jedediah and rushing off to the Smithsonian, only to find himself surrounded by the spears of the Egyptian king’s soldiers. General Custer rides to the rescue but accidentally knocks himself out. Larry keeps running while carrying the tablet and that’s when he joins forces with Amelia Earhart. A series of captures and clever escapes follows, leading to a big fight. Along the way, the evil king captures Jedediah and threatens to suffocate him in a large hourglass if Larry can’t kind the key combination to help the king unleash the demonic army from the underworld.
The sheer adventure in BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN is spurred by lots of imagination. Many of the special effects are amazingly detailed and memorable. They bring the history and art at the Smithsonian to wonderful life.
Also, the cast does an excellent job. Ben Stiller as Larry is not the most handsome guy in the world, but he has an appealing charisma. Ditto for Owen Wilson as Jedediah. Lovable Amy Adams joins the cast as the spunky Amelia Earhart. And, Hank Azaria is hilarious as King Kahmunrah, adopting a pronounced Boris Karloff lisp. (Of course, Mr. Karloff starred in the original version of THE MUMMY, so this is a fond, and long overdue, contemporary homage to a beloved actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood.)
The same filmmakers who created the first NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM have sprinkled their new movie with lots of humor and romance. At the press screening, some viewers were enthralled with practically all of the movie’s humor and romance while other viewers thought some of those scenes and dialogue slowed down the story a bit.
Overall, however, the new movie has plenty of adventure, humor and romance to delight all but the most curmudgeonly moviegoers. Best of all, the movie makes history exciting again. And, it has lots of positive messages for audiences, including a couple positive references to God and one positive historical reference to Jesus Christ, which, though slightly hidden, is an important historical point that Christians need to emphasize more often as they witness to non-believers. Such religious references should remind us all not only of the Christian heritage that positively inspired Western Civilization and its history, including the history of the United States, but also that it is in God we should trust, no one else.
Another message of the movie overtly suggests that the key to personal happiness is doing the things we love with the people we love. That message could be given an inappropriate spin, but it is immediately followed by a joke. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises viewers not to let that message take away from their duty to lovingly serve God through Jesus Christ.
Finally, though the movie casts General Custer in a comical light as a somewhat bumbling figure, Larry gives the character a touching pep talk at a crucial moment. Like other scenes in the movie, that scene gives this sequel a bright, endearing quality. It also shows us that we can overcome our past failures if we move past our fears of failing again. Of course, that is much easier to do with God than without Him.
Overall, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for brief foul language and a few of the other supporting elements mentions mentioned in our CONTENT section summarizing the movie’s content.
The NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM sequel may not be quite as delightful and surprising, but it is a charming, creative family adventure sprinkled with romance, humor and excellent effects. The talented cast and the story plunge right away into the action and comedy. Best of all, the movie makes history exciting. It also has a strong redemptive, moral worldview with a couple direct positive references to God and an implied reference to Jesus Christ and His positive impact on history. Some elements require caution, however.