Sunday, December 20, 2009

Under 250: Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian

My history degree was never a surprise to my parents who purchased the Time Life Archeology series for me at the age of 7, giving me a new VHS tape each month about ancient Egypt, Greece, or Africa and standing by as I watched them on repeat in between viewings of She-Ra: Princess of Power. If only a dorky kid like me had had access to the Night at the Museum movies.

Starring Ben Stiller as a night watchman who discovers that the creatures and characters in the National Museum of History come to life via the magical power of an ancient tablet, the first movie is inventive and hilarious, and even a bit informative (if superficially). It’s these clever historical inside jokes and many cameos by the likes of Hank Azaria and Steve Coogan, that make parents laugh along with the kids.

But while the first movie was solidly focused on the action and the fun, the second one falls into the typical Hollywood kid sequel format, in which Stiller finds himself detaching from the mystical museum to pursue a late night TV invention. Without him, the museum inhabitants find themselves in peril and he goes and saves the day, finding love and a repeat of all the old jokes along the way. As an adult I get annoyed, content to see more museum antics and the solid story telling of the first film. But as a kid, I couldn’t have cared less, and with something like this, that’s all that matters.


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