Review: Night at the Museum

In an effort to keep up with my prolific associate, I’ve got another review of a movie that’s been out on DVD a little while in case anybody out there has yet to see it.

I saw Night at the Museum last night and Smokin’ Aces tonight, both of them surprising me. I expected Night at the Museum to fall flat, while I thought Smokin’ Aces would be enjoyable despite all the bad things I’d heard about it. I could not have had things more backwards. Smokin’ Aces is another review for another day, tonight let’s focus on Night at the Museum.

Ben Stiller knows good funny, I’ll give you that, but of all the so-called “Frat Pack” members, he wouldn’t be my top choice. I would try and rank those who come before him but I would probably get myself into a lot of trouble. I’d probably put Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn slightly ahead of him, but beyond that it we start to get into a gray area. For the record, frat packer Owen Wilson joins Stiller for this one.

Then what about Robin Williams? Sure, he’s a comedy legend, but what was the last movie you really enjoyed him in? I used to watch Mrs. Doubtfire on a regular basis when I was eleven, but since then I can’t think of one (I never saw Good Will Hunting).

Night at the Museum follows the story of Larry Daley (Stiller), a man who has had bad luck with several business ventures in the past. Facing eviction from his apartment, and the prospect of having to move to Queens away from his son and ex-wife, Larry takes a job as a night watchman at the Museum of Natural History to make ends meet. His first night on the job, he is surprised to find out that when the museum shuts down, all of the exhibits come to life. When burglars threaten to steal the very item that brings the museum to life every night, Larry must pull the museum’s exhibits together to help him get it back.

Backed up by a great cast, Ben Stiller finds himself in another film for his “good” pile here. Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs are all great as the security crew Ben Stiller is replacing. Ricky Gervais is hilarious as the museum’s acerbic owner. Owen Wilson isn’t bad as miniature cowboy, Jedediah. Paul Rudd is solid in a throw-away role. Patrick Gallagher is excellent as Attila the Hun. Finally, I can also add a new movie where I really liked Robin Williams, here in the role of Teddy Roosevelt.

Maybe it’s because I recently read up on Teddy Roosevelt (I wondered why they thought he was good enough for Mt. Rushmore). For some reason, I liked Robin William’s performance here. Maybe he should do a bio-pic. That’d keep him from being the over-the-top Robin Williams I usually see panned by critics (I’ll give License to Wed the benefit of the doubt for now but have you seen the previews?).

To my surprise, this is a movie I would have to recommend. Plenty of safe laughs for the kids, but there is enough here to keep the adults entertained as well. If you are a fan of Ben Stiller’s brand of comedy, you should probably check this one out.

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