May 22, 2009, - 1:00 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I’ve already posted my review of “Terminator Salvation.” I can’t post a review of “Dance Flick,” because I did not see the whole movie. I walked out. Read between the lines.
And then, there’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” the sequel to the first “Night at the Museum.” Although the movie is a little long, repetitive, and rambunctious, I liked it, if not quite as much as the far superior original. Only the special effects are better than the original. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good or worthwhile.
On the contrary, the movie is charming and great for families with kids. It was cute and will give parents an opportunity to teach them about some of the characters that come to life in the movie, including Abraham Lincoln, General George Custer, and Einstein. Anything that can get your kids interested in historical figures is something I applaud. Didn’t have any use, though, for “The Thinker” coming to life as a complete idiot who sounded like a “valley dude” surfer type. But other parts of it were very funny.
Ben Stiller is back as the man who was the night guard at the museum, the exhibits of which came to life at night. But now he’s a successful TV gadget infomercial entrepreneur a la Ron Popeil. He returns to his old haunt, New York’s Museum of Natural History, and learns that the exhibits are being packed up and shipped off to storage in the federal archive at the Smithsonian. That means the end of coming to life at night. That’s sad enough.
And then, Stiller learns of an even more wicked plot. An effeminate, evil Egyptian Pharaoh, Kahmunrah–the older brother of Ahkmenrah–plots to take the golden tablet and bring all of the evil forces in history to life and take over the world, along with Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible, and some others.
So Stiller travels to Washington and finds himself in the basement of the Smithsonian museums in a giant archive. He teams up with General Custer, Einstein, and Amelia Earhart to battle the evil prince and his forces and save the world . . . or at least the world of historical exhibits. Many of the characters from the first installment are back for the sequel, including Robin Williams’ Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson’s cowboy Jedediah Smith.
Some of the sequences are repetitive and silly, and that gets tiresome. But others are very cool, such as when Stiller and some of the other characters walk into the famous picture of the soldier kissing a woman on the street at the end of World War II. Ditto for the black and white mobsters–including Al Capone–who come to life in black and white and team up with the evil forces. Also cool: seeing Honest Abe come to life and leave his perch at the Lincoln Memorial to give Stiller some battle advice.
Overall, this is an ideal family and kids’ movie. Fun, great effects, lots of cool characters, and many historical figures about whom your kids can learn something after the movie is over.