Over the Christmas holiday I went with my family to catch a Night At The Museum, the recent Ben Stiller vehicle. I have to say right off the bat that I knew what I was getting into when I sat down in the theater. I wasn’t expecting a great movie, nor was I looking to laugh particularly hard, be touched to tears or kick the seat in front of me with suspense. I did want, however to see a family friendly film, that would go down easy, require little effort, and be a nice movie to see with my family. Night At The Museum is just that. As a movie, its pretty bad. But as a Christmas family outing, its perfect. I enjoyed the movie very much, mainly because of my company and the season. With that said, as a film it’s more than flawed, missing pieces and decidedly anticlimactic.
As with most Ben Stiller comedies these days we see a bewildered Stiller placed in an awkward situation and watch his reaction. It worked a few years back…now not so much. His character is shallow, not very likable and distanced from the audience, so much that the conflict with his job and his family bounces off of the audience simply because our heartstrings are not getting any attention. Stiller doesn’t do a bad job at the flat role, and has a few good moments however. Compared to his costar Dick Van Dyke, he’s freaking Kevin Spacey. If anything, this movie serves as a testament that actors today are better than those of yesteryear. Dyke’s over the top cheese-ball acting is dreadful and doesn’t fit into the film at all. At no point do you forget that you are watching Dick Van Dyke on screen, and not the character he attempts to play. Same goes for Mickey Rooney’s bit part…just hang up the hats codgers, please.
The biggest disappointment however comes from Ricky Gervais’s cameo role as the museum curator. The whole concept behind his character seems to be ‘lets take the guy from the office, and all his office-speak, and shrink it down into a bit part’. Its funny for the first two lines, then once you realize what they are doing you’ll hate him or it. Oh yeah, and Robin Williams is in it too. Almost forgot his role (its forgettable).
The plot (yes there is one) is dreadful and the characters; cobbled together. The effects are nice, particularly the mini-battle scenes and the T-Rex, but the overall appeal is lost when stuck in the ho-hum movie. So yeah…pretty much is a poor movie, but a great excuse to get the family together and go see something this holiday.