Monday, June 1, 2009

Night at the Museum (2006)

Starring Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Carla Gugino, Jake Cherry, et al
Rated PG, 108 minutes

Larry Daley (Stiller) is a divorced father who tries to make a living with crackpot inventions instead of an honest job. When it looks like he’ll get evicted again, and let down his son (Cherry), he takes the last job available – night watchman at the Museum of Natural History. It quickly turns out to be more than just watching monitors and sleeping. At night, all the artifacts come to life, and Larry has to keep them indoors until the sun rises.

“Night at the Museum” was based on a children’s book, which seems like no surprise now given the fantastical nature of the story. Everything coming to life – big or small – is one of those things you just want to believe as a kid, like time machines. This is one of those ideas that sounds like a home run on paper. It all depends on the execution. The people behind this movie pulled it off. The story combined with the special effects gave a good answer to the question, “what would happen if historic figures came to life and had to live together?”

I liked how the elder night guards, played by Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs and Mickey Rooney, gave Larry a crusty document of instructions on how to get all the historical figures to live in harmony. The directions were clever. I was anticipating what the later ones would be, and what trouble Larry would find himself in. Their use in the story was cut too short in my opinion.

The guards weren’t the only familiar faces here. Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Brad Garrett, Charlie Murphy and Ricky Gervais were among the supporting cast. Ricky’s part in particular made me laugh.

****½

I had a minor quibble with Ben Stiller being too Ben Stiller at times. It didn’t feel totally compatible for him to be off-the-wall nutty alongside the emotional part of his character. But, that’s why you cast Ben Stiller I guess, right? This was meant to be a family fun movie, and “Night at the Museum” fills that role very well.

1 comment:

NoneUponThars said...

I agree that the other nightwatchmen weren't given enough time in the movie. They were really funny. But with so many stars, it must be hard to balance.
I could have done without the peeing monkey and the mummy though *gulp*