Saturday, 19 September 2020
Night at the Museum
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 26 December 2006 00:00
It wouldn’t seem out of place if Night at the Museum were titled Jumanji 3. After all, we’ve had the original Jumanji, which brought to life a safari board game. Zathura came along a couple years ago and did the same only better and in space. I rented Zathura one day and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Now Night at the Museum does away with the game, but brings to life the inhabitants of a museum. Though it is in no way tied to the previous films, it still feels like we’ve seen this one before. But there is still some fun to be had, especially for kids.

Ben Stiller plays Larry, a father who won’t take a regular job because he always dreams of bigger and better things. He regularly disappoints his son who is getting tired of Dad not being able to pay the rent. This stuff doesn’t really matter much though, because it is only a thin attempt at fleshing out the characters. Things pick up when Larry applies to be a night watchman at a museum and discovers that the displays have a life of their own.

It turns out that a magical tablet in the mummy’s tomb exhibit brings the entire contents of the museum to life at night. Everything from the T-Rex skeleton in the lobby, to the stuffed wildlife, tear about in chaotic confusion when the sun goes down. Larry is ill prepared for the danger that his new job brings but eventually realizes this must be the challenge he’s been waiting for.

The film introduces some quirky cameos that don’t stretch their limit. Owen Wilson plays a miniature cowboy with anger management issues. Owen as a cowboy is nothing new, nor is the pairing of him with Ben Stiller. Robin Williams bears a passing resemblance to Teddy Roosevelt, mostly due to the fake moustache. Luckily the role doesn’t allow him to get too carried away and become annoying. If I were to guess I would say that Williams’ stint in Jumanji had him automatically tied to this project. The best cameo in the film comes from Ricky Jervais (Britain’s The Office) who steals the scenes even from Ben Stiller.

This may all sound less than inspiring, but I don’t want to leave you with that impression. Although the story may leave something to be desired, Night at the Museum is a ton of fun to watch. It has just the right mix of goofiness, magic and artistry to put a smile on the faces of children and adults alike. 2006 has not been a good year for children’s movies and I could count those that were worthwhile on one hand. This one definitely makes the list as a good quality family film for all to enjoy.

With points for creativity, art direction and lots of kid friendly laughs I give Night at the Museum 8 out of 10 stars.