Night at the Museum Movie Review
The number one movie in America right now is Night at the Museum, the Ben Stiller comedy where museum figurines come to life at night. The movie was highly anticipated to be the blockbuster of December, as it is pure mindless entertainment from beginning to end. Following a series of bad reviews, however, I was skeptical to set foot in the theater - but I'm glad I did, because Night at the Museum is an entertaining little comedy that never goes above and beyond, but, like most Stiller movies, works at a consistent pace.
Night at the Museum follows loser of a dad Larry Daley, a man who is a good father except for the fact that he is always chasing wild dreams rather than locking down a quality job. When he faces the realization that his ex-wife is considering taking full custody of their son due to the fact that he moves around so much, he realizes that he has to bite the bullet and get a job any way he can - and this case it is as a night guard for the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately for him, due to a magical Egyptian tablet, everything in the museum - statues, mannequins, animals, dinosaurs and more - comes to life, and it is his job to keep everything in order and contained within the walls of the museum.
The movie starts off horribly bad. The first 15-20 minutes are extremely dull, boring and unfunny, and you really start to wonder whether you made a mistake. The movie skips around as it tries to show how Stiller is a loving father and likable guy, but just not that good at holding a job, but it just takes too long establishing something that could have been indicated to us with a one-minute scene. Thankfully, as soon as Stiller steps foot in the museum, the movie picks itself up and runs all the way to the finish line, hardly stopping to catch its breath or skip a beat.
Night at the Museum succeeds by offering pure, lighthearted entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Every bit of the comedy is completely appropriate for children, but the movie itself isn't necessarily a children's movie. Kids and adults can laugh at the same things, and of course the presence of Owen Wilson as a miniature cowboy also helps matters. Stiller himself isn't particularly funny, but the movie is so full of fun moments that it really doesn't matter.
Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Robin Williams are also highlights, although none, except for perhaps Rooney, completely meet expectations.
The movie does suffer from being overly heavy-handed when it comes to its father-son relationship. Levy's team obviously threw in these blatant themes of realizing yourself and your potential and earning the respect of your son and vice versa to provide a feel-good atmosphere for the movie, but the minutes the film wastes on such elements are just that: a waste.
The final scene of the movie, where all of the characters are dancing to modern music, is also really cheesy.
While Night at the Museum isn't a great movie, it is a fun movie, and that's all it needs to be. The situational comedy is entertaining for audiences of all ages, and those looking for some mindless adventure should just get a kick out of Night at the Museum.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.