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Night at the Museum April 26, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.

When I first saw the trailer of this movie, it brought back childhood memories of Jumanji and I knew I wanted to watch this. The premise is simple. An Egyptian tablet bring everything in the Museum of Natural History to life at night resulting in complete chaos inside while the outside world knows nothing of it. However, everything goes back to normal by sunrise as long as everything is inside the museum. Anything outside turns to dust. An unappealing story is woven around this featuring Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, a divorced father who cannot hold a job. To please his kid with a more stable job, he joins as a night watchman at the museum. After a chaotic night where he is overwhelmed with the secret that wasn’t disclosed to him, he plans to quit but decides against it for his son. He plans well for the second night but still things go wrong. He is almost fired in front of his son and his friends. To redeem himself, he brings his son to the museum on the third night. But someone tries to steal the Egyptian tablet and some of the other artifacts and it is up to Larry to bring things back to normal while regaining the respect of his son.

As Ben Stiller’s story is just a placeholder, the audience readily overlooks it. Since the main appeal lies the the “history comes to life” aspect of the film, one hoped for better work on that aspect. Though writers Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (who earlier wrote Taxi and Reno 911!: Miami together and also acted in the latter) make an attempt to make things interesting by dividing the action into three nights that turn out differently, it isn’t very good. The imagination is there but not too much of it. The main drawback in my opinion is the lack of excitement until very late in the film.

Despite the flaws, it seems the premise was enough for most of the audience resulting in a domestic box office gross of about $250 million improving the career prospects of director Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther). I was also surprised to know that this film was based on a 1993 book by Milan Trenc. I wonder why Hollywood hadn’t latched onto this one before.

Alan Silvestri comes up with a nice background score that aids the film. I did not like Ben Stiller’s performance too much. It was more of the same that we have come to expect from him. Among the special appearances in the film, I enjoyed Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt.

This isn’t an easy subject to execute well. The screenplay here does come up short but it does have the imagination and some moments that make it an average watch for kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if many adults don’t like this one much.


1. Shujath - May 9, 2007

I too watched this expecting it to be a fun film but it disappoints in the end. This seems to be aimed exclusively at a younger audience though the promising plot could very well have been molded for a wider group. Didn’t hurt much watching though.

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