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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Night At the Museum

Ben Stiller plays Larry Daley who dreams up schemes to make money, but none of them ever pan out. He's been evicted from apartment after apartment, had a boot put on his car, and it cost him his marriage. Now, it might cost him his son, too. Faced with the need to get a regular job and put some stability into his life for the sake of his child, he takes a job as the night watchman at a natural history museum.

Three guards (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs) used to hold the jobs, but museum attendance has been low and they're replacing them with a less experienced new guy. Dick Van Dyke leaves instructions for Larry on the job, but of course, he doesn't read them. Until....

It seems every night the exhibits in the museum come to life. That includes the stuffed lions, the skeleton of a T-Rex dinosaur, Attila the Hun and everything else they have there. T-Rex almost kills Larry before he reads the instructions and discovers what to do. He ends up losing them to a monkey, but Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams) helps him restore order.

Larry talks to the trio he's replacing, but there are no second set of instructions and Dick Van Dyke tells him to study. Larry does and he feels better prepared to face night two at the museum, but it doesn't go that much better than the first.

His son arrives at the museum in the morning with two friends, just in time to hear the director fire his dad. Larry convinces the museum head to give him another chance and he brings his son to work, wanting him to see how everything comes to life. Only nothing does and he discovers the Egyptian tablet that caused this curse has been stolen.

The rest of the movie covers Larry trying to stop the thieves and get all the exhibits back inside the museum before the sun comes up. If anything from inside the museum is outside at sunrise, it turns to dust.

Overall, the film was cute. I'm not a fan of Ben Stiller, but he wasn't obnoxious in this movie so he was watchable. The beginning is full of stuff with his ex-wife and son which was pretty boring, but was supposed to set up why he was willing to take the night guard job and stick with it. I think the writers could have done a better job with this part, but once Larry is actually at the museum things pick up.

What didn't I like? There were some big logic holes, especially in the scheme to rob the museum. Actually, the movie was riddled with logic holes, but I decided to just ignore them and enjoy the film for what it was. There was also the excruciatingly slow beginning of the picture and the start of what looked like was supposed to be a romance between Larry and a museum docent which never really got off the ground.

What I did like. The best part of the movie was when Larry attempts to stop the thieves and retrieve what's already been stolen. How he gets the museum exhibits to work with him was fun and the dramatic conclusion kept me entertained. I also really liked the concept of this movie, which was clever and fun.

While it could have been better and the setup should have been greatly improved, the nights at the museum are worth the boring stuff it took to get there.

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5.