When I was a kid, two of my favorite books were The Castle in the Attic and The Indian in the Cupboard. Both of these tales involved toy historical figures coming to life and or sucking the owner into a historic era. Come to think of it, The Castle in the Attic reminded me a lot of the scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when the crazy duo jet on into Medieval times– only The Castle in the Attic used the phrase, “dude” considerably less. I loved these stories; the idea of history literally coming to life always enthralled me.
When I heard about the first Night at the Museum, I was thrilled. The premise alone had me hooked. What geek wouldn’t love it if all of the characters in a natural history museum came to life at night? A T-Rex skeleton that plays fetch with its own femur? Please, you had me at T-Rex. The story seemed like a dream come true. I was, however, only to find out that Night at the Museum would sorely disappoint me. My husband couldn’t even finish it. I did; somehow I still had hope that it would improve (it didn’t). Damn. Might I add that I apparently don’t learn my lesson because I added the sequel to the queue. Double damn.
Night At the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian stars Ben Stiller as Larry, a former security guard at the Natural History Museum in New York. For some strange reason, Larry is now selling his unique inventions on infomercials. He is making a ton of money, but seems to hates his job. While he is away, the museum packed up all of the old exhibits and shipped them to the Smithsonian. However, the mystical tablet that brought the exhibits to live in the old museum travels with them to the archives; thus bringing every crazy archival artifact and piece of art to life. Hilarity is supposed to ensue. It is up to Larry to save the day.
True to its name, Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian gives the audience some of the greatest battle scenes of all time. This movie holds its own against the fight scenes in Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, and just about any WW II film. But Night at the Museum 2 added what all those other films were afraid to show: a tiny Roman soldier riding a squirrel while an enormous living statue of Abraham Lincoln swats at men with hawk heads. Now that’s classic cinema.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this film is the sheer star power that blesses its celluloid frames. Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, and Steve Coogan are just a few who lend their services here. OK, I admit, I was a little caught up in a film with all of these cool actors. Just a little–no more, no less.
And, since I am being totally honest here, I actually enjoyed this film a lot more than the first (although this isn’t saying a whole lot). It was fairly entertaining, as long as you don’t think too much about it. Sure, I think it is bizarre that two of the main characters—Teddy Roosevelt and General Custer—are portrayed as happy, benevolent (and sometimes bumbling) people; when in “real life” I am sure this was far from the case. As with any historic figure, they were real people, and therefore not perfect; but these two individuals are particularly problematic choices as such cheery characters (weren’t they pretty imperialistic and fairly vicious? I could be wrong here, but I am just throwing it out there). Whatever. I know it’s a kid’s movie, but that is just food for thought.
So, I gave this film a pretty hard time, but compared to the first one, it was much improved. Would I say run out and rent it right away? Maybe not. But if it was on television, I probably wouldn’t change the channel.
Have an awesome day!
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