I truly believe that Obi-Wan Kenobi was right when saying, “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” How else to explain the paradox that is Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian? It is true that this film, directed by Shawn Levy, is nothing more than a series of frivolous comedic set pieces that garner little more than a smirk at times, more than a scoff at others. It is also true that it can be the cause of popcorn spilling belly laughs. It all depends on your point of view – that of an adult, or that of a six year old.
Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley who has retired from the security game, and become an infomercial-starring inventor. His quest to find something in life that he really loves takes such a back seat in this picture that it is mostly just an after thought to the effects laden action comedy sequences, most of which are just reruns of bits from the abysmal first chapter in the Museum series.
But I will be a capuchin’s uncle if the kids didn’t love it. Even if it were the fifth remarkably similar film in the series kids will laugh at just about all of the slapsticky gags that litter this script. Even when Stiller, in his over-used curmudgeon character, stretches a one-liner into ten or fifteen-liner there was copious child giggling ringing throughout the theater.
The film sports a star-studded cast of supporting characters that blend into the background with the anthropomorphic monkeys and bird headed, Egyptian warriors from the Netherworld. Hank Azaria as the villain, Kahmunrah, mines a voice and affectations he utilized for another Stiller vehicle, “Mystery Men,” way back when; reprising his role as the pint sized cowboy Jedadiah, Owen Wilson must have used an ample number of his cellular minutes phoning this one in; and with a curious amount of screen time dedicated to a very irrelevant and under developed sub-plot Bill Hader appears as General Custer. Shinning very briefly, using his talent as the comedic offspring of Stiller and Seth Rogen, is Jonah Hill as an overzealous security guard. Also on the up side, Amy Adams is a delight as a fast talking, “His Girl Friday”-type dame, who just happens to be Amelia Earhart.
From one point of view, that of an analytical, free thinking adult with multiple points of reference, this film falls apart almost as quickly as it begins. From another point of view it is nothing more than two hours of sight gags, and silly jokes, to be taken for what it is: A diverting piece of fluff churned out so that kids can spend the afternoon, smiling, laughing, and spilling refreshments all over the sticky floor. While I imagine myself in the former category, often times I wish I were in the latter, if no other reason than to let loose, and enjoy things that quite possible could be rotting my brain.
El Luchador Rating: 2 out of 5 (2 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)