Sunday, December 14, 2014

Movie Review: "Night at the Museum" (2006)

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Movie"Night at the Museum"
Director: Shawn Levy
Year: 2006
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced father who often has big ideas that never come to fruition. This has made it hard for him to keep an apartment and a steady income. Larry likes spending time with his son Nick (Jake Cherry), but losing his apartment could jeopardize that. As a last ditch effort, Larry gives up his entrepreneurial dreams and takes a job as a night watchman at the New York Museum of Natural History. The three previous guards Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), Gus (Mickey Rooney), and Reginald (Bill Cobbs) are being forced into retirement due to cutbacks. These men give Larry a set of keys, a flashlight, and a list of instructions for his job. What they don't give him is a heads-up that all the exhibits in the museum come to life each night. Larry has to find a way to keep the exhibits under control while guarding the museum or risk losing his job. 

Even Ben Stiller has to make money somehow.

"Night at the Museum" is a film that very much seems like it is funded by the museum lobby, if there is such a thing. BigJ and I love museums just as much as the next bunch of people and would totally work in one if given the opportunity. They are a way for all people, not just kids, to learn about history and arts and science in a "hands-on," not textbook sort of way, but please don't touch the skeletal remains! This movie does manage to display a mix of hefty silliness and touching sentiment, even though you wouldn't think so just by looking at the trailer or the first few minutes of it. While the CGI can be rough at times and the overall premise of the movie is simple enough, this is a film that kids will probably like and adults won't completely hate. Ben Stiller is sort of a polarizing actor who seems like he wants to please people no matter what he's doing and he clearly pulls out all the stops to make himself seem likable in this "loser finally triumphs" tale. He does his standard awkward type of humor throughout the movie, which he pretty much always does, this time, in a PG setting. By awkward, we mean if someone did the things he does in this movie in real life, we'd look for the closest blanket pile to bury ourselves in because DAMN THAT WAS AWKWARD. Beyond his awkwardness, there were a few obvious grabs towards the funny aimed at the younger side of audience members, though, many of which involve potty humor. Judging by the trailer for the third, yes you read that correctly, the third "Night at the Museum" movie set to come out this week, the peeing monkey is a recurring theme and a staple in the franchise. The rest of the cast, starring the likes of Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Carla Gugino, Owen Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, and of course, Robin Williams, do just fine with what they are given in their respective roles. What fails, however, is the execution of the story and a lot of little plot points along the way, though they are entirely too uninteresting to even merit finishing in the film, let alone bringing up in this review. All in all, this is a fluffy piece of cinema intended for kids that borderlines on unfunny most of the time. Where there are laughs, they are few and far between, though they are certainly hearty.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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