[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Another night, another museum, snore

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

August 18, 2009 -- I passed on this film, rightfully so, when it made it first run through theaters and waited until it got into the bargain theaters. I didn't miss anything and it isn't worth paying more than a dollar to two to see. It is slow-moving and the comedy falls flat in more than a few places. The story doesn't hang together all that well, either. I didn't much care for the original film and this sequel is no prize either.

In this sequel, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller reprises his role from the first film) returns to the museum after being gone for a couple of years pursuing a successful career as an inventor and infomercial huckster (appearing in an infomercial with George Foreman hawking a glow in the dark flashlight). He finds that most of the exhibits, including some of his friends, have been packed up for a trip to the Smithsonian Institution. He tries, but fails to stop the shipment. Later, he gets a call from one of the exhibits, Jedediah Smith (Owen Wilson, reprising his role). Jedediah tells him that Ahkmenrah's evil brother, Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) is attacking the exhibits and wants to steal the magical tablet that enables the exhibits to come to life at night. If Kahmunrah succeeds in his evil plan, he will use an army of the dead to conquer the world.

Larry springs into action, speeding to Washington D.C. to infiltrate the Smithsonian, rescue his friends and stop Kahmunrah's evil plan. Since the magic tablet is now in the Smithsonian instead of the smaller museum, there are many more possibilities for adventure. Larry encounters such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams of “Doubt”), George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hader of “Adventureland”) and a giant octopus. There is a great deal of action at the Smithsonian, with fights, chase scenes and lots of narrow escapes. There is even an airplane flight through the museum. The pacing of the film is off at times and the action slows to a crawl, giving the viewer time to think about the holes in the plot.

The story also features a bit of romance between Larry and Amelia Earhart, but it is a romance with an unsatisfying dead end. Amy Adams, one of the best young actresses working today, plays an ultra-spunky version of the famous aviatrix (Earhart flew into Laramie on June 4, 1931 in an autogyro as part of a national promotional flight). The romance between her and Larry is really forced, and Amelia's place in the story is awkward. It is enough to make you wonder why Amelia Earhart is in the story at all, until you realize that a branch of the same studio that made this film, 20th Century Fox, is also releasing a movie about Amelia Earhart, starring Hilary Swank, in October. Could this be a bit of self promotion? It wouldn't surprise me a bit. Let's hope the next film about Amelia Earhart is better than this one. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2009 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)