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Entertaining and amusing, but doesn't feel as fresh as the first one

  • Dec 1, 2009
Rating:
+1
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is no longer an out-of-work loser who needs to step up to the plate. This time around he's a highly successful CEO and workaholic who needs to slow down and focus on what really matters. That means he's got to accept that his true calling is not to invent new and mostly useless gadgets (like a glowing flashlight and a super-sized doggie bone) but to be an ordinary night guard in a far from ordinary museum.

One thing that was even more evident in this film was that the basic strategy in bringing to life the various historical characters was to create someone who was recognizably similar to the original but somehow insecure or silly. A giant Abe Lincoln was easily the best looking new character in terms of special effects, but his mannerisms and personality were just silly and shallow; unlike with most of the major characters of the original the writers seemed to be making very little effort to draw upon some "historical essence" in the outline of the new folks. Hank Azaria nearly managed to add something with his odd but interesting turn as an incompetent evil Egyptian with a British accent and a lisp, but the real exception and the one element that felt truly fresh in this film was, of course, Amy Adams' characterization of Amelia Earhart. She brought a vitality and spontaneity to the role that was convincing and engaging, and she easily stole every scene she was in. The only unconvincing aspect of her performance was the fault of the writers: her strange romantic attraction for Ben Stiller's character, who only accomplished anything through luck (and a very small amount of pluck) and a cartoonish conviction that he could always manage things because none of it really mattered and things would all turn out right in the end. Her interest in Larry Daley is even more peculiar when it turns out her passion was really just the writer's vehicle for teaching him a valuable life's lesson (something about "seizing the day" and doing whatever makes you happy no matter what it will all amount to in the end).

All the old characters are back, but there's a host of new ones drawn from the Smithsonian, where his old friends are shipped and he is called upon to save the day. As far as I can tell, all of the old characters, including Stiller, are "slumming" this time around. Rather than giving original and interesting performances, they seem like they are just trying to do enough to make it apparent they are the same folks the audience has come to love from last time. Owen Wilson, especially, looks like he hardly cares what's happening. The first film's chemistry between his cowboy and Steve Coogan's centurion has all but disappeared and for the most part Wilson seems resigned just to bury his head in the sand and wait until the movie's over. Sure there are a few new characters and situations, but most of them just seem bigger, not really better. The best moments this time around, and the ones my children enjoyed most, were basically variations on the best moments in the first film: this time Stiller is in a slap-fest with TWO rare monkeys!

If you like silly cartoons - and who doesn't every now and then? - this one's not bad and not boring and holds a few minor surprises. Very young children won't be able to tell the difference between this and a truly original blockbuster summer family entertainment film. Well worth watching if you've got nothing better to do for a couple of hours.

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review by . December 22, 2009
   This review is a compilation. I'm giving the movie 3 stars and tossing in some thoughts from those I watched the movie with.       My twenty-something daughter loved it, thought it was fresh and fun and she loved the long list of visitors in the film. I found the talent that dropped in to be fun and charming as well...but...the inclusion of a few of them in more than just a scene or two would have maybe made the movie even more fun.       My husband …
review by . December 28, 2009
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review by . December 22, 2009
This review is a compilation. I'm giving the movie 3 stars and tossing in some thoughts from those I watched the movie with.    My twenty-something daughter loved it, thought it was fresh and fun and she loved the long list of visitors in the film. I found the talent that dropped in to be fun and charming as well...but...the inclusion of a few of them in more than just a scene or two would have maybe made the movie even more fun.    My husband thought that …
review by . December 01, 2009
This is yet another family-pleasing installment in this series (Can you tell I'm hoping for more?). I thought that I preferred the first one to this one, but after watching this again, it sure does stand up. I think that it has even more laughs than the first. Hank Azaria is absolutely fantastic as Kahmunrah (sp?), and there's a battle of the night guards scene between Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill that is not to be missed.    I think that the first one has a bit more heart, but …
review by . November 21, 2009
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I had the unique pleasure of watching this movie in the Smithsonian's IMAX theater. Perhaps it was the surroundings, but I found myself enjoying the movie quite a bit. It's got a great mix of action, romance, and comedy for both kids and adults. It's the type of movie that I hope Hollywood makes more of - decent movies that the whole family can enjoy without any sexual undertones.    Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian builds upon the last movie, Night at the Museum, …
review by . August 16, 2009
My wife and I enjoyed the original "Night at the Museum" we expected to the sequel to be typical of seconds... not quite as good. However, "Battle of the Smithsonian" bucks this trend - and in our opinion it is significantly better than the original. The plot is a bit silly - our favorite night-watchman had made it big as inventor of useless products. His new position as CEO means that he is no longer working at the museum. The museum has also undergone a few changes - namely most of the exhibits …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #29
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Ben Stiller returns to Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as Larry Daley, the unfortunate night watchman who continues to encounter living and breathing museum exhibits. The film brings the Smithsonian to life, the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) flew on her non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic to Dorothy's ruby slippers and Fonzie's jacket from Happy Days.

As caretaker of the Smithsonian, Larry faces conflict when an evil Pharaoh comes to life with the reestablishing of a tablet as a magical force in the museum, bringing the old exhibits (such as Theodore Roosevelt and Dexter) and new exhibits (like General Custer and Al Capone) back to life. Larry enlists the help of Amelia Earheart, who he later develops a romantic interest in, and together they try to put the museum back in order.

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