Like the familiar objects on display in Museum, the plot and gags here are dusty and old

Night At The Museum

on December 22, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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Larry (Ben Stiller) is a lovable loser whose schemes never seem to work out. A divorcee with a 10-year-old son (Jake Cherry), whom he does not want to disappoint yet again, Larry takes the only job he can get: night watchman at the New York Natural History Museum. After a brief introduction by the three old night watchmen played by a trio of octogenarians that includes the great Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobb ( The Hudsucker Proxy ) and Mickey Rooney, Larry is given a set of keys and a list of instructions and told to make sure nothing gets into the museum — or out.

The “or out” is a dead giveaway for the wacky high jinks about to ensue. Before long Larry is being chased by the T-Rex, which for no discernable reason has the instincts of a dog; peed on by once-stuffed monkeys; and attacked by Lilliputian figures (Owen Wilson and Steven Coogan) from dioramas of the Old West and ancient Rome. And, most importantly, Teddy Roosevelt on his bully steed, played by Robin Williams, comes to life to explain it all.

The Williams connection here is fortuitous, as Night at the Museum is basically Jumanji (in which Williams also starred) set in a museum. This is not a compliment, since Jumanji was a popular but not particularly good movie. Night at the Museum also lifts from a number of disenfranchised-Dad movies, including Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Williams also appeared. (For the record Mrs. Doubtfire was actually pretty good.)

Night at the Museum, on the other hand, is an over-produced, overly frenetic, obviously derivative family adventure, chockfull of celebrity cameos and gigabyte upon gigabyte of CGI everything, from Tyrannosaurs Rex bones to wooly mammoths to Galileo (or perhaps it was Copernicus), all of which accrues to nary a single original, or worse, funny moment. If you have very young children drop them off and do some shopping. Distributor: Fox
Cast: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais and Robin Williams
Director: Shawn Levy
Screenwriters: Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon
Producers: Shawn Levy, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor
Running time:
Release date: December 20, 2006

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