FILM REVIEW: Night At The Museum 2
PG • 107 mins • 20 May
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson, Bill Hader, Alain Chabat
Hands up if you waited with bated breath for another Night At The Museum. Nope, us neither. Don’t get us wrong, it was a cute enough film, with a great idea: what if the waxworks, stuffed animals, miniature figures and dino bones in a museum came to life when the visitors went home? Think Toy Story or The Indian In The Cupboard with a whole museum to play in, not just a kid’s bedroom. But the film itself was middling, despite the smart casting of Ben Stiller as an ordinary Joe security guard who stumbles into the circus and becomes its ringmaster.
The sequel picks up after Larry (Stiller’s character) has moved on to inventing, making dire infomercials for his products and neglecting his magic friends at New York’s Museum Of Natural History. Too late, he learns the museum is upgrading, and the old exhbibits are being shipped to Washington to be stored at the Smithsonian Institute. But the exhibits there are coming alive too, and there’s a nasty Pharaoh (Hank Azaria) who wants to open the gates to the Underworld and conquer humanity. Time for Larry to tame the Smithsonian…
Good news: the sequel’s cleared out the dead wood. The first film had a bland Robin Williams (as Teddy Roosevelt), who only snags a cameo here, and there’s no longer a cobwebbed Mickey Rooney or Dick Van Dyke popping up to scare us. Williams’s replacement is the much more fetching Amy Adams, formerly the winsome Princess in Enchanted, who plays ‘30s aviation heroine Amelia Earhart. While her performance is more limited, it’s still good to see her teach the spirit of adventure to the snarky Stiller (“Wipe that permanent look of alarm off your kisser”).
But the film’s stolen by Hank Azaria, previously Stiller’s co-star in Dodgeball and Mystery Men. His supercilious, lisping, pouting Pharaoh is a hoot, snubbing Darth Vader, putting a miniature Owen Wilson in an hourglass and carrying on like Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. Add some gags with living paintings and photos, and the return of that monkey, and this museum is certainly worth the price of admission.