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Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Release Date: 
05/22/2009
Rated: 
MPAA: PG
Star Rating: 
5 out of 10
Directed by: Shawn Levy

The Skinny: It's been a couple years since we last left night watchmen Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), one of the only people who knows the New York City Museum of Natural History's secret. At night, a magical Egyptian tablet (because there is no other kind) breathes life into the museum's collection of historical waxworks and artifacts. In the ensuing time, Larry has quit his job, become successful, and now in this sequel to the 2006 hit, is on a mission to rescue his magical friends, who have been shipped to The Smithsonian in Washington DC, from three reincarnated historical villains.

The Good: It's a kids movie. So, like, if you're a kid, you might dig it. If you're a parent with a kid, you might dig it. If you're a degenerate, video-game playing, bong-sucking dude who digs boobs, beer, and bacon…well maybe this isn't your thing. But if you pass out in a gutter and inexplicably wake up in a theater chair as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian rolls, you might think the special effects are cool, and the mild history lessons informative, and you might even chuckle at the comedy all-star cast assembled. None of these, of course, are certainties.

The Bad: It's one of those kid flicks that thinks kids are dumb. This is unfortunate, since this franchise has a built-in braininess to it, and a "history is awesome" ethic. But let's talk about the cast. No flick in recent memory has had more comedy heavyweights, and the sheer amount of laugh muscle here becomes a weakness, as so much of it seems squandered and misspent. Besides stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, there's Ricky Gervais, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader, Steve Coogan, Christopher Guest and Robin Williams. That's a lot of ha-ha. But it's crowded, and that much talent in one place has a diluting effect.

Tantalizing tidbit: Any art museum worth its salt would never hang paintings along side photography. I mean, really Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian? Everybody knows that. You just pissed off the curator demo.

See in the theater, DVD, or in five years on TNT: If you're a history nerd in touch with his inner-child, rent it.