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Night at the Museum

The Advocate

Night at the Museum

Reviewed by C.J. Darlington

"With perfect pacing and an all star cast, all the hype is justified. ...a film the whole family will want to pop into the DVD player more than once."

Who wouldn’t be intrigued with the concept of figures coming to life in the Museum of Natural History? I mean, come on. It’s every child’s dream. How many of us stared longingly at our GI Joes, Barbies, or stuffed animals . . . just wishing?

When I first saw the Night at the Museum trailer with a T-Rex drinking from a water fountain, I knew the film (based on a book of the same name by Milan Trenc) had potential to be great. But the big question was, could they really pull it off? The movie opened in December 2006, and the public answered with a resounding, “Yes”. It spent 21 weeks in theaters and domestically grossed $250 million ($572 million worldwide).

Main guy Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is down on his luck. He’s recently divorced, about to be evicted from his apartment, and losing his young son’s adoration. He needs some stability in his life. The night security position at the museum is a low-man-on-the-totem-pole job, but Larry’s willing to give it a try. That is, until he experiences his first night alone and everything from lions, Neanderthals, Civil War soldiers, miniature Roman soldiers, and a replica of an Easter Island moai comes to life. Now the warning he’d received earlier, “Don’t let anything in . . . or out,” crazily makes sense.

There is of course an explanation for all the mayhem. Ever since a golden tablet owned by Egyptian Pharaoh Ahkmenrah made the museum its home, the party starts at midnight. To say more would spoil things. Let’s just say all the delightfully predictable shenanigans you’d expect keep things entertaining.

With perfect pacing and an all star cast, all the hype is justified. And unlike some of its contemporaries, Night at the Museum doesn’t go the potty humor, cheap laughs route. (Even a moment involving a monkey peeing on Larry is truly funny.) Spritzed throughout the film is clever dialogue and lots of visual stimulation, with T-Rex being a definite highlight, of course.

The motley crew of Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs as the retiring watchmen who hire Larry is a nice touch classic film buffs will appreciate. With a little make-up Robin Williams bears a striking resemblance to his character Teddy Roosevelt, and he portrays him to a “t”. Carla Gugino (the mom in the Spy Kids movies) is a tour guide with a fascination for all things Sacajawea. And here’s a little trivia for you: The guy who plays Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher) also had a minor role as Jake Goss in the Cloud Ten Pictures “Apocalypse” movies Revelation and Judgement, though you’d never recognize him in all the Hun getup.

Yes, there’s a lot of goofiness in this movie. It comes with the territory. You might go a little wacky too if you had to keep order amidst the chaos of creatures Larry faces. Of course, kids will be mesmerized by the special effects. Adults will be too, but they’ll probably appreciate the humor and banter more. Either way you slice it, Night at the Museum is a film the whole family will want to pop into the DVD player more than once. High expectations aren’t a problem. This movie will meet all of them, and leave you smiling to boot. What more could you want?


C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.