Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review - Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian

The night security guard is back in the sequel to the highly successfull Night at the Museum. This time all of the exhibits are being shipped to the Smithsonian for storage. The Smithsonian is the world's largest Museum and with the magic tablet now at the Smithsonian, a ton of new exhibits have come to life, including Kahmunrah an evil pharaoh wanting to use the tablet for evil. Larry the guard must enlist the help of new exhibits in order to stop Kahmunrah before it is too late.

Director Shaun Levy returns for the sequel to his 2006 hit Night at the Museum and this time he takes all of the action to Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian. Despite the story being ridiculously far fetched (I dont mean the exhibits coming to life), "Battle of the Smithsonian" is brimming with fun filled action for all ages. The family adventure moves at a fast pace that will keep kids entertained and as an added bonus, really has some great laughs sprinkled throughout the 105 minute running time. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" furthermore is filled with a great cast that helps create an overall diverting family adventure, one that in some ways is more enjoyable than the original.

First and foremost, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" stellar cast is one of the main reasons the film is entertaining and not a complete waste of time. Ben Stiller once again provides his delightful typical performance as Larry Daley, the night guard, who has a keen interest in making sure his exhibits are taken care of. Amy Adams plays Amelia Earhart and easily steals the movie with her charm and tenacity in the historical figure portrayal. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan return as Jedediah and Octavius with just as many jokes and great laughs as they did in the first one. Quite honestly, Wilson and Coogan were the only reason I tollerated the original, but here they merely add to the overall merriment. I really enjoyed Wilson and Coogan's action montage, flawless. Bill Hader provides a rousing performance as General George Armstrong Custer and just like on SNL, Hader is the perfect embodiment of any character he plays. Christopher Guest delivers an entertaining performance as Ivan the Terrible and Alain Chabat (The Science of Sleep) is perfect as Napoleon Bonaparte. Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, Jason Sudeikis, Ricky Gervais, Clint Howard, Ed Helms and Jonah Hill all are a real treat in their minor parts making "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" a melting pot of comedians all adding to the fun.

The only performance that did not sit well with me was Hank Azaria as Kahmunrah. Azaria is a really good voice actor, but here in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" he is grating at the very best. Someone should have said to the phenominal voice talent, maybe you should try something different. To Azaria's credit he does also voice The Thinker and Abe Lincoln in the film and does a flawless job with both. The Thinker was one of those characters that had every kid running out of the theater saying, "Firepower!" Azaria does have one shinning moment as Kahmunrah, where he and Stiller have an exchange over some rules that Kahmunrah doesn't want Larry to break, however Larry isn't at all interested in Kahmunrah's rules. The scene is absolutely hilarious and had me laughing harder than I expected to from a Night at the Museum film.

The story for "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" is believable enough, but has a few moments that just don't add up. Granted the movie is targeted at kids, but there a few plot holes that really took me out of the movie. My biggest problem is how quickly Larry (Ben Stiller) is able to gain access to the Smithsonian's vaults. The Smithsonian is extremely high security and the ability of Larry to snatch a clearance card that has access to everywhere is absolutely ridiculous. There are a couple times that I felt myself being completely taken out of the movie to rationalize something happening which unfortunately opened my eyes to some of the flaws laced throughout Battle of the Smithsonian. Overall however, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" was a pleasant family adventure that left me walking away amused and diverted. The kids enjoyed it thoroughly and it wont be a shock when this film becomes a permanent fixture in our DVD collection.