NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN
Ex-security guard from the Museum of Natural History, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is now a small and growing businessman, putting novelty products into the market. When he gets a distress call from Jedediah (Owen Wilson), he infiltrates the Smithsonian Institute in order to rescue Jedediah and Octavius (Steve Coogan), who have been shipped to the museum, destined to be put in deep storage.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I was hoping I wouldn't have to say this, but .... I told you so. Night at the Museum 2 is flawed exactly where its predecessor was, namely the writing. A lack of discipline and a desire to appeal to the lowest common denominator have wreaked havoc on a decent cast and a great idea, almost burying the outstanding effects. It's a flimsy rescue story in which Larry (Ben Stiller) has to go on an adventure involving every known badass from the past, plus their armies, to save his two buddies, Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan). But don't expect too much buddy buddy stuff, since the two miniature figures get little screen time (Coogan has about three scenes).
Luckily, this leaves more screen time for Amy Adams, who plays the come-to-life pioneer pilot Amelia Earhart - and she easily steals the movie. But even Adams can't rescue it. With such a scant screenplay, it would have been an opportunity to make the most of a trawl through the Smithsonian - the world's biggest and most fascinating museum. We get a whiz through tour, and a glance at some of its treasures, but the filmmakers are terrified of losing their audience, so deliver visual bubble gum.
Ben Stiller is Ben Stiller, Robin Williams is Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais is Ricky Gervais - all good but playing in fail safe mode. Christopher Guest is wasted as Ivan the Terrible and Bill Hader is plain silly as General Custer,
Hank Azaria, on the other hand, hams his way into loony fun-tasy as an ancient Egyptian hell bent on world domination. He makes good use of his voice skills, imparting a plummy English accent with a lisp to the old Kah Mun Rah. He also voices Abe Lincoln and The Thinker - both of which offer great novelty value and brilliant FX, but are clunky as filmic elements. Alain Chabat is fun as Napoleon but his script is woeful.
Not funny enough, nor absurd enough to work, Night at the Museum 2 feels like a very long night, without the benefit of sleep.
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NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN (PG)
CAST: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Jonah Hill, Thomas Lennon, Bill Hader, Hank Azaria, Ed Helms, Christopher Guest, Steve Coogan, Eugene Levy, Ricky Gervais
PRODUCER: Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe
DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy
SCRIPT: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Schwartzman
EDITOR: Don Zimmerman, Dean Zimmerman
MUSIC: Alan Silvestri
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Claude Paré
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 21, 2009