Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian


Review by Patrick Hodges

Many moviegoers have a problem with sequels, and the second Night at the Museum movie is a prime example why.  Some sequels actually continue the story, expanding it in different – and often unexpected – directions, while others simply rehash basically the same story hoping to get the same laughs.  It rarely works.

The first Night at the Museum was a fairly novel concept:  night watchman Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) takes a job at a museum where a magical Egyptian tablet that is on display brings all the exhibits to life between sunset and sunrise.  We laughed as Larry tried to cope with this bizarre turn of events, as he tries to lasso the more rambunctious of the exhibits while simultaneously trying to be a good father to his young son.  A heartwarming and funny story, which is why it racked up a quarter-billion dollars.

In Battle of the Smithsonian, a couple of years have passed, and Larry has found fame and fortune by doing informercials on novel little household products (like the “glow-in-the-dark flashlight”) that he created.  However, when his “museum” friends are packed up and shipped to the Smithsonian Museum in D.C., Larry is forced to spring into action to prevent catastrophe once again.

All the characters are back:  Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan) and Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), along with the cavemen, the Huns, etc.  But in Washington, we are introduced to a bevy of new characters, including this chapter’s “villain”:  Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), the big brother of Akhmenrah, who, it appears, still has issues at not being the “favorite son” of Egypt, and hopes to find happiness by unleashing his hellish army from the Underworld and conquering the planet.  Yeah.

From there on, you can pretty much guess the plot; Larry runs about trying to find a way to foil Kahmunrah’s plan, while either enlisting or dodging the artwork and statues that come to life around him, including (but not limited to):  a fast-talking Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), Gen. George Custer (Bill Hader), the Thinker and the Lincoln Memorial’s sole resident. 

It’s all just too much.  Too much going on, too silly a plot.  Second verse, same as the first.  Watching Ben Stiller get smacked around by capuchin monkeys was funny the first time (kind of), but the second time, it was just inane.  Just as inane were most of the secondary characters, such as Custer, Lincoln, the Thinker and a bevy of Albert Einstein bobble-head dolls.  Even Adams, who I normally love, was so rat-a-tat with 1920’s lingo that it became grating after a while.  And Hank Azaria was about as un-menacing a bad guy as I’ve seen, lisping and shouting and hamming it up from beginning to end.  (Although the cameos by Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch were actually quite funny.)

Some movies were not meant to have sequels.  This was one of them.

1 ½ / 5 stars


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