Night at the Museum (PG)
Sunday 24 December 2006
In Night at the Museum, Ben Stiller signs up as a security guard at New York's Natural History Museum, a post which offers low pay, anti-social hours, and a magical Egyptian tablet which brings all the exhibits to life after dark. Suddenly he has to deal with a waxwork Attila The Hun, a pride of stuffed lions and a dinosaur skeleton which wants to play "fetch". Like Snakes On A Plane, the film has the kind of cracking, all-in-the-title concept which seems like it can't go wrong ... except when the director of Cheaper By The Dozen and the writers of Herbie: Fully Loaded are around. In their hands, the exhibits come alive, but the movie doesn't.
There are enough silly gags and celebrity cameos to ensure that Night at the Museum isn't the worst way to pass an afternoon at the cinema. Stiller has invited his friends to the party, so Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan pop up as inch-high models of a cowboy and a Roman legionary, while Ricky Gervais plays the museum's manager in a three-piece suit and a bow tie - because that, of course, is what Englishmen always wear to work. But the various fun bits and pieces are just that - bits and pieces. They never coalesce into a story, and it's only in the last half hour that a plot creaks into motion, courtesy of Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs as three superannuated night-watchmen.
What's worse is that the film-makers do everything they can to drain away any air of danger and awe from the concept. First, they establish that the exhibits' nocturnal walkabout has been happening for 50 years; presumably, the museum closes early in the winter. Second, they spread the action over three successive nights. Stiller's first night at the museum lasts about 15 minutes and by the morning we've already seen the lions, the Huns, the dinosaur, and everything else there is to see.
And third, they give us a hero who barely bats an eyelid at what's going on. He's more worried about whether his son respects him than whether he'll be torn limb from limb by a 1,600-year-old European warlord.
It's another example of how 21st-century Hollywood can twist the most inappropriate scenario into a schmaltzy lesson in parenthood.
What you want from Night at the Museum is homicidal statues and marauding taxidermy. What you get is an ex-wife chiding, "I don't think Nicky has any room in his heart for more disappointment."
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head