Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian Reviews
The horrendous display of tired, immature and incoherent slap-stick is little more than a fiasco of recycled sugar-rush escapism. The incessant battering of juvenile and overzealous cheap-gags is unable to hold the target attention of children, let alone the bored chaperones.
"Sometimes the greatest change brings about an even greater opportunity." Ted Roosevelt.
Super-successful entrepreneur and infomercial pitchman, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is miserable and missing his old career. After returning for a nostalgic visit to his former stomping grounds at the Museum of Natural History he is advised that an extensive refurbishment and new fangled interactive holographic displays will take the place of his beloved exhibits.
Unaware of the magical and mysterious nightlife of the miniature dioramas museum curator Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) ships off Larry's former comrades to the Smithsonian for permanent storage. his newfound celebrity status holds no pull for their return.
Unexpectedly that following night whilst Larry is attempting bring his friends back by using his new found celebrity pull, he receives a frantic distress call from call from thimble-sized miniature cowboy Jedididah (Owen Wilson).
Informing him that the crucial Egyptian tablet that gives them life is now awakening the entire contents of the multileveled subterranean underground archives, Larry jumps to rescue his friends for the new threat.
Held captive by the effeminate lisping evil overlord Pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) and his newly animated tyrant allies Napoleon (Alain Chabat) who has a bad case of little man syndrome, Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest) who properly translated is "Ivan the Awesome" and Al Capone (Jon Bernthal) still in black and white.
Larry assembles a team of well known historical figures from the sprawling malls vast collection including sassy can-do aviatrix pioneer Amelia Earhart, clueless eccentric General Custer (Bill Hader), the malls marble statue of wise honest Abe and a collection of bobble-headed Albert Einstein's (voiced by Hank Azaria and Eugene Levy respectively).
Will Larry realise the lucrative business enterprise that provided nice suits, a big house, moderate fame are just vain pursuits, and the real point to life is enjoying its simplicity humbly with the people you care for?
Positively attempting to entice children into the amazing world of museums, writing team Robert Ben Grant and Thomas Lennon and returning director Shawn Levy effortlessly toss in a myriad history, art and pop culture.
Factually quibbling the logistical impossibilities Rodin's "The Thinker" is actually in Paris, Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" are both on display at the Art institute in Chicago, Archie Bunker's chair, Muhammad Ali's boxing robe and Dorothy's ruby slippers are at the National Museum of American History in NY (where the movie starts). I'm quiet positive, if there is a display consisting of a singing trio of Italian cherubs they wouldn't resemble the Jonas Brothers or sing Bee Gee's.
However, there are some wonderfully understated pauses. Momentarily stopping to watch degas' twirling 14 year old dancer as Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog bounces merrily around the galleries. The heroines escaping in the Wright Brothers' plan and Larry's mobile phone working and inspiring a new career for Joey Motorola inside Alfred Eisenstaedt's VJ Day Photo, The Kiss.
Struggling mechanically through the haphazardly clustered and thoughtless lines even the likes of Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan are unable to scavenge true laughs upstaged sadly by two face-slapping monkeys and an adventurous squirrel.
The frenetic pedestrian and ultimately pointless made-to-make-big-box-office-bucks sequel simply numbs and dumbs the mind and is destined for that popular dusty niche on the rejects DVD shelf.
Ben Stiller's excruciatingly stilted and disengaged "been there, done that" approach leaves the overblown SNL sketch with a gapping hole larger than the Grand Canyon. No amount of spirited performances or witty banter by underdeveloped supporting actors could salvage this needlessly elaborate excursion.
The Verdict : The sheer fact that this only children's based comedy scheduled for release until Ice Age 3 in July makes it people only choice (personally I recommend going to the DVD shop and getting Jumanji). However, this movie lacks the heart, emotion and comedic timing of its nimbler 2006 predecessor. Even with a galaxy of comedy stars in cameos jokes are strangled, corny, uneasy and sadly bereft of all charm.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 29/05/2009
Hank Azaria is the villain in the film and Robin Williams shines again as Teddy Roosevelt.
Although it mostly follows the first installment, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian still delivers plenty of laughs and a fine performance from Ben Stiller.
(Full review coming soon)