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Night at the Museum
A day at the museum will be much more worthwhile
Night at the Museum
Ben Stiller Stars in the Comedy "Night at the Museum".
OPENING WEEKEND: $28,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $89,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

July 5th, 2006: Larry (Ben Stiller) is a bumbling, but sympathetic fellow, always optimistic about his prospects, however mundane they may be. When he accepts a night-shift position as a security guard at the infamous Museum of Natural History in New York, he gets more than he bargained for. One night, he accidentally unleashes an ancient curse that brings all of the museum’s displays to life. All of a sudden he finds himself surrounded by long-extinct dinosaurs and receiving advice from former presidents, like Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams). However, Larry’s elderly night watchmen co-workers (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs) have thought up an unsavory scheme to use the awesome power to their own benefit. As things quickly spiral out of control, Larry must find a way to prevent the creatures on the loose from terrorizing innocent citizens, and stop his mischievous colleagues’ evil plot.

What to Expect: The film is a big-screen adaptation of a children’s book by Milan Trenc titled The Night at the Museum. It’s not a particularly well-known novel, but its ideas are fitting for a Hollywood production. Six writers were involved in penning the screenplay. Such a large collaboration is typically a bad omen because the final product can turn out somewhat uneven as the script gets handed from one person to the next. Also, if six distinct minds are necessary for material as simple as this then the filmmakers might have a problem. With credits like Taxi, Herbie Fully Loaded, “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Keenan and Kel,” and “Reno 911!” between them, the scribers don’t exactly boast the most impressive resume either.

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Shawn Levy was selected to direct and seems like a suitable, although rather routine choice. He’s responsible for several popular, but barely tolerable comedies, including Big Fat Liar, Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, and most recently the nauseating Pink Panther remake. Favorably for him, each film has raked in a healthy surplus of cash at the box-office. The Pink Panther made about $82 million, while Cheaper by the Dozen made close to $140 million and spawned a sequel. That’s good news for Levy and for any fans of his films because I suppose we’ll be treated to similar family fare for some time to come. Night at the Museum is his latest and appears not to stray too far from his niche.

At the very least, the flick does boast an impressive assortment of notable actors. Director Levy has been quoted as being very excited about throwing a bunch of famous names together and capturing the effects. Probably the funniest visual gag comes courtesy of legendary actors Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs as disgruntled graveyard shift security guards. Casting the seniors as villains gives the story a fun spin. Robin Williams could go either way as former president Theodore Roosevelt. He could steal the show by providing some of the most amusing moments in what will probably be an uninspired comedy or he might make the rest of the picture look like a boring, but nice and quiet escape from his antics. Of course, what would a Ben Stiller movie be without Owen Wilson. The two have appeared in seven previous features together and Stiller asked Wilson to make a cameo in Night at the Museum as well. He will play a little 3 inch cowboy that comes to life in one of the displays.

The big star of the film is undoubtedly Ben Stiller, who has already caused some controversy by moving the production from Montreal to Vancouver. With a budget of over $100 million, it would have been the largest project to ever shoot in the French-Canadian city and his decision understandably angered the locals. Stiller claims that he wanted to work with a particular special effects company in Vancouver, but rumors have circulated that he just didn’t want to travel too far from his home on the west coast. The real important question is how will Stiller fare with children? Not counting Madagascar, this is his first family film and I’m not sure how well he can adapt. He’s done some fairly creepy roles in the past and I’m not positive that his eccentric behavior will go over well. This is going to have to be a complete transformation for Stiller from anything we have seen before.

Parts of Night at the Museum were shot at the actual Museum of Natural History in New York, but the majority was shot on a stage replica in Vancouver. The director claims that this movie will be a love letter to the museum culture but I don’t know how much the audience will truly get out of a flick where Stiller’s character is being chased around by a T-Rex skeleton. The premise feels appropriate for children, but not quite suitable enough for the adult crowd. In fact, it feels rather tacky in general and early reports have confirmed such suspicions.

In Conclusion: Night at the Museum is an outright formula picture. All it has to do to succeed is stick to a simple, historically proven blueprint for family films, throw in some good CGI, and let the big stars make their small cameos. With the right promotion, it could produce some strong box-office numbers. I think something will not sit right with the audience, however, and the movie will not make back its budget during the theatrical run. Perhaps it will be Stiller himself that will be a bit jolting in a family feature. Either that or its mediocrity will be its downfall.

Similar Titles: Jumanji, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Hook
December 22nd, 2006 (wide)
April 24th, 2007 (DVD)

20th Century Fox

Shawn Levy

Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Ricky Gervais, Ernest Borgnine, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, Pierfrancesco Favino

Total: 130 vote(s).

Comedy, Fantasy, Kids & Family

Click here to view site

Rated PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor






Night at the Museum at AskMen.com

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