words kill, words give life

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Posted in movies and television by Kaitlin on May 31, 2009

I watched Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian last night. I was planning on writing a little review for it anyway when I saw an ad for an internship so I geared this towards the magazine (it’s a online lifestyle magazine geared towards moms).

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Director Shawn Levy fills Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian with the characters that came alive in the original, but viewers may be saddened to find the exhibits they loved have significantly less screen time.

Teddy Roosevelt spends the fateful night in the New York museum, though a new Teddy appears as a hieroglyphic-reading bust. Jedediah and Octavius manage to get into trouble, but the Neanderthals and Sacajawea have little to do but listen to General Custer’s idiotic battle plans.

The monkey is there to cause mischief and to instigate a slap fight near the end of the film. This, and Amelia Earhart’s slapping of Larry Daley, sunk my hope that Battle of the Smithsonian would avoid the original’s slap fest. The movie may be short on quotable phrases, but the children everywhere can happily mimic the monkeys and slap through their feelings in Hollywood style.

Ben Stiller’s second performance as Larry Daley finds him a CEO who does not realize how unhappy he is until every other character tells him so. Ben Stiller remains the straight man for the others humor; his attempted jokes leave the audience in silence.

Amy Adams brings spunk to her role of Amelia Earhart – even rating critical comparison to a 1930s screwball comedienne. Although the writers have her throwing around half-invented slang, Adams cannot speak fast enough to join the ranks of Katherine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell.

Before she shares a touching moment with a Tuskegee Airmen who thanks her for “clearing the runway,” Adams’ Earhart kisses and slaps Stiller’s Larry in a moment mocking her for having irrational emotions. A humorous take on historical figures is to be expected from the Night at the Museum franchise, but repeated complaints of “it’s because I’m a woman” undermine Earhart’s believability as a barrier-breaking woman.

In an early confrontation, a Smithsonian security guard repeatedly insults Daley by calling him a girl. Later, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon and Al Capone question Kahmunrah’s tunic by calling it a dress and asking if they have to wear one. These things seem in good fun and draw laughs from the audience, but perhaps we should question the reinforcement that girls and dresses are in some way unequal to boys and pants. Other causes for concern are Jedediah’s reference to reaching second base, frequent threats of death, some (bloodless) fight scenes and mild language.

This movie quietly takes its place in the lineup of studiously pushed out sequels. Battle for the Smithsonian is not going to surpass anyone’s expectations, but it is humorous and may even interest kids in history.

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One Response

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  1. Mike said, on June 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    It interests adults too! 😛

    I thought that with it being the Smithsonian there would be entire armys backing up the original characters giving them the same, if not more, screentime.

    I enjoyed reading your opinions, will check back for more!


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