Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Night At The Museum

We hadn't seen a movie for a few weeks and fancied seeing something that didn't require much in the way of hard work so a light comedy like Night At The Museum seemed to fit the bill, especially as Eragon was getting such poor reviews and there was nothing else that appealed. It's pretty much a popcorn, no-brainer, light-hearted comedy so here's a brief summary…
To avoid moving house again and perhaps losing parental access to his son, would be inventor Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) takes a job at the Museum of Natural History as a night watchman. Budget cuts are forcing the museum administration to retire the current watchmen Cecil, Gus and Reginald (Dick Van Dyke, Micky Rooney and Bill Cobbs) and replace them with a younger and obviously cheaper man.

However, what Larry doesn't know is that, every night after sundown. the museum exhibits all come to life. That's everything from stuffed animals, statues, wax models, miniatures and a gigantic Tyrannosaurus skeleton. There's also the fact that Cecil, Gus and Reginald, somewhat aggrieved at their forced retirement, are planning to rob the museum and point all the blame on the new guy.

Can Larry survive the savage lions, rampaging dinosaur, miniature Mayan warriors, Attila The Hun and his band and manage to foil the robbery and keep both his job and access to his kid?

Night At The Museum
Ben Stiller doesn't normally fit into my idea of playing a caring parent role but he's actually very good in this and has some excellent support from veteran actors Van Dyke, Rooney and Cobbs as well as a screen giant like Robin Williams. However, I've never been a fan of Owen Wilson (too whiney) and Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan are hopelessly miscast. Gervais plays a more annoying variant of his David Brent character, which I never liked anyway, and Coogan flounders as a Roman general with a British accent. Kids'll blank the performances by Gervais and Coogan as they're not very integral to the comedy so they'll get away with it while the rest of us just cringe.

Anyway comedy is what this is all about and, as a family comedy movie, it hits all the buttons and kids will certainly like it as there are some very funny scenes. The special effects are excellent - from the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton running amok, the miniature Wild West and Roman exhibits battling each other, the mini-Mayans trying to kill everyone, the gigantic Egyptian tomb guardians to the wild animals. The monkey is hilarious and some of the scenes with it and Stiller are classic.

There are couple of romantic storylines as well but they're not overplayed. Larry fancies Rebecca the research student (Carla Gugino) and Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) is hankering after Sacajawea, although I doubt if many non-Americans would have a clue as to who Sacajawea or Lewis and Clark were so some of that may go over the kids heads and probably most adults as well. I'd heard of Lewis and Clark but I've no idea who Sacajawhodji was at all.

All in all, it translates to a pretty funny movie that is well suited for all the family.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
My Rating: 7/10

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