Open Thread: Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum 2–Second attempt at writing this review.

I thought it was funny, but I didn’t like it much.

The main change in this sequel is there’s a female costar. Amy Adams plays an effervescent Amelia Earhart. I won’t quibble too much with the immense difference between this adventurous, bubbly character who doesn’t appear to have much of anything in common with her namesake other than the name, accomplishments and drive. Adams steals the show from Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley, who is as directionless as he was in the previous movie. Only, this time, his character arc didn’t hold water.

There were too many heart-to-heart pauses breaking the action up and some excruciatingly overlong scenes between Larry and various other characters that may have been hilarious when they were filmed, but stumbled when overcooked on the screen.

Battle for the Smithsonian should have stayed in script development for a few more months, but I guess the studio isn’t regretting the timing of the release. It’s done very well at the theater.

The main characters from the first film are sidelined in this one, for the most part-but shown onscreen just enough to satisfy. I had to scratch my head at the juxtaposition of Sacajawea giving General George Custer lessons on how to charge. And Larry giving Custer a pep-talk about being a leader for their group, while Custer whines of only being known for his final failure and for being a coward (as he would never have thought so in real life)?

If I had to grade this one, I’d give it a C for effort, but a huge F for history and characterization. Give me a break: even a movie aimed at children and their parents should have *some* intelligence to it-especially if it takes place in the Smithsonian.


  1. says

    While I wouldn’t argue that the film is technically accomplished other than special effects and some of the performances, I think the film has a refreshing lack of cynicism and a charming goofiness that, also refreshing, doesn’t come from toilet humour or raunch. It’s also a lot more honest a film than, say, than reboot-but-not-a-reboot-parallel-universe-time-travel-action-movie Star Trek. Night of the Museum doesn’t pretend to be anything other than an excuse to make silly jokes. So it’s fluff; I thought it was very entertaining fluff.

    To some extent, the film’s intellect or lack thereof is beside the point. I see it as more about emotion than brains, a celebration of museums and the sense of wonder we can feel at the knowledge embodied in the exhibits. It’s like a child’s wish-fulfillment fantasy.

    And I also think that the film did a nice job of having a strong female heroine. Amy Adams’ Earhart is more decisive than Daley, and not at all the damsel-in-distress that one might expect. I liked that. Daley actually learned a thing or two from her.

  2. says

    You have good points. I *did* enjoy sections of it: but, even so, it still could have used more work in the script department, whether it’s a light-hearted kids’ movie or not.

    Historical accuracy was not the film’s goal, obviously. Everything was played for laughs, with little emotional depth of the best kids’ movies. (I’m not asking for the “depth” of a Bridge to Terebithia, either, ugh)

    I did appreciate the lack of potty humor, sly winks to the adult members of the audience-everything was pretty much “out there”. There were plenty of funny moments between the draggy scenes.

    I’m frustrated with it because it could have been so much *better*, and the studio didn’t seize the opportunity to make a sequel that stood up in comparison with the original.

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