Night At The Museum (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/12/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 108 mins

Though not quite as funny, clever or exciting as it thinks it is, this remains a watchable adventure comedy with good comic performances and the occasional moment of inspiration.

What's it all about?
Ben Stiller plays Larry, an out-of-work, divorced father who takes a job as a graveyard-shift security guard at the New York Natural History Museum, largely to provide some stability for his young son. However, after he's shown the ropes by three retiring former guards (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs), he's horrified to discover that all the exhibits magically come to life at night.

Caught between a rampaging Attila the Hun, a feud between miniature cowboys and Romans and a T-Rex on the loose (to say nothing of the lions, monkeys and Neanderthals), Larry turns to Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) for help. Will Larry be able to contain the chaos, win the respect of his son and romance his pretty colleague (Carla Gugino)?

The Good
There are a handful of moments that make Night At The Museum worth watching, notably Stiller's frantic bout of monkey-slapping, an inspired visual gag involving a car tyre, Dick Van Dyke's kung fu moves, the interplay between Owen Wilson's cowboy and Steve Coogan's centurion, and Mickey Rooney's angry and foul-mouthed (but PG-rated) performance.

The Bad
The main problem is that the plot is woefully underdeveloped and the uninspired climax lacks the sense of danger that would have made it exciting. By contrast, the chaos that is unleashed in the similarly-themed Jumanji is genuinely scary and there's a lot more at stake for the protagonists, whereas here, the only thing Larry has to worry about is losing his job.

Stiller does his best, but Gugino's character is underwritten, Ricky Gervais isn't nearly as funny as he thinks he is and several of the jokes fall flat.

Worth seeing?
The performances and the odd gag keep this watchable but a decent script could have made it a lot better.

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Night At The Museum (PG)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 00:58

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