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Review: A Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

June 27, 2009
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By Chad Larson

A couple of years ago I saw the trailer for A Night at the Museum online and instantly knew I was going to enjoy the movie. I just had a gut feeling about it. The big T-Rex skeleton drinking from the water fountain, the talking Easter Island head, it all just seemed fresh and fun.

And it was.

But I didn’t hear much about a sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, until right before its release. I finally took the time to check it out recently, and as with any sequel, I went into it with a healthy dose of skepticism. Larry Daly (Ben Stiller), our hero from the first movie, has continued his hobby of inventing and has now become a Billy Mays-style infomercial star. His “glow in the dark flashlight” has made him wealthy and he spends his days running his gadget empire.

We quickly discover that has hasn’t been back to the museum lately. When he does go back he finds that many of his “friends” are being removed in favor of holograms and other advanced exhibits. He is sad but also the only one who knows how devastating such a change could be for the museum.

Later he finds that some of the exhibits have been shipped to the Smithsonian, along with the tablet of Akhmen-Ra that brings everything to life. Finding that Akhmen-Ra’s brother (Hank Azaria) has come to life and is trying to take over the world, Larry must infiltrate the museum and make a whole new set of allies to save the day.

This movie tried really hard to maintain the feel of the first one, but about halfway through I just started to get bored.

The majority of the characters from the first movie only have bit parts in this one, and some of the new characters (especially the wax statue of Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) who acts as Larry’s love interest for most of the film) aren’t as endearing as the old crew was.

There are some nice touches (The Tuskegee Airmen stop and thank Amelia Earhart for “clearing the runway” for their people to fly) and the explanation behind the tablet’s powers made some semblance of sense.

There were quite a few laughs (flying cupid statues of the Jonas Brothers singing “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic, and the always amusing back-and-forth between Tex and Octavius) and of course the film is very kid-friendly.

Maybe I just missed the characters from the first movie. Maybe the novelty from the first film had just worn off.

But another thing that really bugged me was the complete omission of Carla Gugino’s character from the first movie – she’s never mentioned at all. I guess people break up in real life and don’t talk about it at all, but in sequels there is usually some acknowledgement of characters who don’t appear.

Battle of the Smithsonian is a fun movie if you can make it through the slow parts. If you (or your kids) were a fan of the original I’d definitely recommend you check it out while still playing at The Amp.

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