Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
I was pleasantly surprised with the original NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. In what I figured was going to be nothing more than a quick paycheck for Mr. Stiller, it proved to be a decent film for the whole family. Even with that, I couldn’t help but groan when I heard they were making a sequel. However, once again, Mr. Stiller and company managed to surprise me by crafting a wholesome, intelligent film that turned out to be a good time.
We pick up a couple of years after the events of the first film, but now Larry Daley is a successful CEO of his own company and pretty far removed from his days at the museum. On a trip back to visit his old friends, he discovers that the museum is undergoing a massive renovation and that all of the old exhibits are being boxed up to be stored at the Smithsonian. After failing to stop the transfer, Larry gets a frantic call from Jebediah Smith (Owen Wilson) and Stiller must travel to Washington D.C. to rescue his friends.
Along with some familiar faces (Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Steve Coogan), the sequel introduces us to a very charming Amelia Earhart, played wonderfully by the adorable Amy Adams. Watching her as Amelia, I couldn’t help but think that the film AMELIA would have been better with Amy instead of Hillary Swank. Amy Adams really stole the show and every scene with her in it was better because of her screen presence. Along with Earhart, we also get Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest) and Napoleon Bonaparte (Alain Chabat). The evil trio is led by Kahmunrah, played by Hank Azaria, who also voiced The Thinker and Abe Lincoln. They and their henchman play the villains to Daley and his group of historical friends.
Like with most sequels, the second Museum film takes things up a notch and introduces more action and more characters to keep things rolling. Since they’re at the Smithsonian, nothing is off limits and virtually every historical figure in history is fair game. They even throw in some pop culture references to liven things up. The fun in the film comes from watching things come to life in the background as our heroes are making their way across the museum. Sure, it went over the top on several occasions and the screenwriters could use a lesson on historical dialect, but this isn’t a history lesson, it’s a fun film the whole family can appreciate. They only had 105 minutes, so they breeze through a few areas of the Smithsonian pretty quickly and have to pick and choose who they involve and who they don’t. Given the time constraints, I think they did a fine job and there are still plenty of characters available for the inevitable sequels.
The simple way to put this is that if you liked the first one, you’ll probably love the second. I actually liked the second one better and felt that moving the action to the Smithsonian was a great move and really opened things up. Getting them out of the museum and introducing various themes (art, animals, aviation, etc.) kept everything fresh and made the story move along faster. Fans of the original will definitely not be disappointed with the sequel.