Monday, April 30, 2007

Sick Day and a Night at the Museum

Yesterday, I had to make a run to the store to get a few things we were out of and a coloring book for Mini-Me. A new coloring book can make any day feel better. While there, I grabbed the DVD for "Night at the Museum".

The Big kids and I saw this at the movies when it was, well, at the movies. And I wanted to review it then - but LOTS of things happened and it kept getting pushed to the back burner. Mini-Me immediately wanted to watch the movie - and so I obliged. I sent the Professor to take a nap and I curled up in the recliner to watch with the kids.

A professional writer I am not but I know what I like in movies. I like a good story. I like good characters. I like a good ending. Everything else is just butter on the popcorn.

Night at the Museum's story isn't all that original. I think we've all dreamt what it would be like if non-live things came to life. "Toy Story" comes to mind. There was also a movie about store manequins that came to life when the store closed. So the premise isn't original - but the little things they put in the story made it special.

The Story Introduces us to Larry Daly (Played by Ben Stiller) who is a divorced dad to one son, Nick.

We're not told why Larry and his wife got divorced, we're shown that they are, apparently, still friends. We're also shown really quickly that she's moved onto a relationship with a bondsbroker and she's an attorney.

Larry is the odd one in the relationship. He's a dreamer.
I liked the fact that they didn't portray Larry as a complete and total goof. I really hate movies where the guys are portrayed as idiots.

They portrayed him as a dreamer - and really, it wasn't a bad thing for this movie.

The Professor thinks the opening scene is a bit sad because Larry is forced to do something he doesn't want to do - take the job as a night watchman at the museum. He has to take the job before he gets evicted from his apartment and his ex-wife intervenes in his relationship with his son.

Larry goes to the museum at the suggestion of an employment agency. He meets Cecile (played by Dick Van Dyke) and gets the tour of the museum. He takes the job and gleefully calls his ex-wife to tell her he has a job.

The first night Larry figures out that things are not normal at the museum.

This is where some of the little extras come into play in the movie and Larry meets the other characters of the movie.

Lewis and clark spend all their days arguiing. Sacajewea can't hear Larry because she's behind glass. Christopher Columbus walks around making "clunk clunk" sounds because he's a bronze statue. I loved the "little" people displays: The Roman Empire, the Wild West, the Mayans. Matter of fact, from the Wild West we meet Jedediah (Played by Owen Wilson - a personal favorite) and from the Roman Empire we meet Octavious. (Played by, to quote Mini-Me, "That guy from 'Around the World in 80 Days'". AKA Steve Coogan)

Larry wants to quit after the first night on the job because it wasn't something "he signed up for". HIs job is to keep things from getting in and from getting out.

He almost gets fired after his second night on the job - because he tried to handle things in the way he thought they should be handled (He gave the neanderthals a lighter because they were looking for fire.) He's going to quit - when he stumbles upon an escaped Neanderthal. When he runs to pull him back inside, the sun hits the cave man, and the cave man turns to dust. He decides then that the job is more than just about him.

On the 3rd night, he brings his son to the museum to show him all the cool things that happen at the museum in an effort to make Nicky proud of his dad. And nothing happens. Nick runs off and Larry chaces him and they stumble across the 3 former guards trying to steal the magical plate from the pharoah exhibit. They explain that they've planted enough stuff at Larry's "place" that they figure he'd get blamed for it.

It was this theft that helped Larry figure out how to help all the Museum inhabitants to get along with each other and thereby making his job more fun. Really, it's a good thing he was a dreamer, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to handle the job.

My kids are always asking me "Who learns a lesson in this movie?" and I have to say that Larry learns a big lesson. That really, things aren't about him.

Other stuff in the movie:
There's a scene where a monkey wets on Larry's uniform. My kids thought that was hillarious - probably because I've been gotten by two babies.

There is the phrase "a**" in the movie once, and it surprised me.
There are references to evolution - especially when Larry and the monkey get into fights. Teddy Roosevelt asks "Who's evolved?"
Larry gets shot with poison darts from the little people at the Mayah Exhibit and says "Oh, Thit" -- but really, that's all there is in the movie that's questionable content.

Robin Williams does a stellar job as the Wax figure of Teddy Roosevelt. It was Teddy that showed Larry why things came to life in the museum. It was Teddy that said "Some men are born great - others have greatness thrust upon them." Teddy was vital to the movie and Robin did a fantastic job.

The special effects are good but could have used some polishing. At one point, Larry is talking to the miniatures and it's apparent that there was much green screen technology here. Larry doesn't exactly make eye contact with the miniature people nor they with him.

The movie is enjoyable to watch.

The hardest parts to watch are the parts with Larry and his son. They keep the continuity of the story going, but also add a bit of melancholy to the story. Which may be what kept the story from going completely goofy. I don't know. I could keep going - but I don't want to write a book on the movie when it's easily watchable all on it's own - and I dont' want to give it all away.

I can't say I'm a Ben Stiller "fan" - but I thought he did really good with this role.
I Recommend the movie at least for a one-time viewing. It has a good story, good characters and a really good ending. Give it a view and let me know what you think.

Laundry Pile Disclaimer: like any other movie, if you're not sure, rent (or borrow) it first and then decide if it works for you.

Night at the Museum Links:
Official Movie Website
Internet Movie Database
Yahoo! Movies - Great Production Pictures!


Anonymous said...

new coloring books rock!

i'm a ben stiller fan (yeah, i've seen one movie he's made.. that qualifies me right?) i would really like to see this movie. for me, i hate to spend so much time on a movie only to have it turn out badly (which usually means not the way i want it to). thanks for review, i just may have to rent it.

ThoughtfulMom said...

Hee hee. You finally got it written! I'm excited to see this one and will probably pick it up to have it on-hand for entertainment at 3am - since I'm about to need entertainment at 3am again.

I agree with Mini-Me - a new coloring book and a box of nice crayons brightenes any day.

Our Peculiar Life said...

Guess what we watched Friday night? You've got it...Night at the Museum! You summed it up for me. I agree with you (again!)
The girls watched it again tonight. Michael thought it was enjoyable but not great. So it's a medium hit around here. ;-)

Halfmoon Girl said...

That is one we plan to rent. Thanks for the review!

Jenn4Him said...

We rented the movie last week, watched it 3 times and then my kids convinced their grandma to buy it. They haven't touched it. I agree with your review. It is a good movie. Thanks for the detailed review. What movie are you reviewing next?