I have a secret that I am going to share with the world: I love movies that are made for kids. Sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and watching something like The Neverending Story or The Mighty Ducks. So imagine my joy when I found out a sequel was being made to one of my favourite releases of recent years Night At The Museum, which is now making its debut on DVD.
After finally finding success with his gadgets, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has left the world of being a night watchman behind and is focusing on his business. When, due to budget cuts, some of the exhibits from the museum are moved for storage to the Smithsonian in Washington, Dexter ,the cheeky little monkey steals the tablet so they can keep coming back to life.
After discovering that evil Egyptian prince wants the tablet for himself, and that they are all in danger, it is up to Larry to make his way to Washington to save his friends, as well as the world, from an army of underworld soldiers.
More slapstick and gag-packed than the first, Night At The Museum 2 relies less on plot and more on an effects bonanza that director Shawn Levy brings to screen. Not only does history come alive, but it lives and breathes and flies aircraft and is wonderfully more human and funnier than in the first instalment.
Keeping true to the style and storytelling of its predecessor, Night At The Museum 2kicks off straight away, without any back story, and straight into the action. This may be slightly confusing for anybody who hasn’t seen the first movie, but it makes for a more active, enjoyable film.
Favourite characters such as miniatures Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan) make a much welcome comeback while being joined by a new host of historical characters including Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, Al Capone and General Custer (Saturday Night Lives‘ Bill Hader), all of whom pale in comparison to the two new main leads in Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria).
Cast-wise, Night At The Museum 2 isn’t far off from perfect. Stiller fits back into the role of Larry with ease and the on-screen relationship with him and Adam seems almost effortless.
For my money, Amy Adams is one of the finest actresses on the planet at the moment and it is great to see her taking time out from her more recent serious roles and having fun.
Azaria laps up the over the top role of evil prince Kahmunrah and plays the role in a straight funny way, trying to make himself seem powerful while really being silly and quiet funny. There are very few people who can get away with that kind of comedic work and it makes me wish he would pop up more often in films.
The leads, of course, are surrounded by a great supporting cast, which ensures there isn’t a moment when something isn’t happening on screen.
The only real complaint that I have about this movie is the lack of screen time for the original film’s museum characters. I miss Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt and Rexy and wish we could have seen a bit more of them. But with so many characters vying for screen time, it was inevitable that it would be a bit of out with the old in with the new.
Night At The Museum 2 is the type of film that for an hour and a half you can sit and enjoy and forgot about everything else. It has enough laugh out loud moments to keep you entertained and although it doesn’t quite live up to the first movie (the scene with Jedediah and Octavius and the electric car still makes me laugh out loud when I think of it), it is more than worthy of your attention.
Unlike the movie itself, the extras are somewhat lacking on this disc, comprising just two mini documentaries. The first, Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words, is a spoof, with interviews from Napoleon, General Custer and Al Capone.
The second is far more entertaining and is entitled Primate Prima Donnas and is a lovely little look at the monkey who plays Dexter (really a female called Crystal). Best of all she smacks Ricky Gervais around, which is something, frankly, I would pay good money to see anytime.
Included on the disc is a digital copy which, should you feel the need to, you can make a copy of the film to take away with you on your digital media player.
Get Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian [DVD]at the Den of Geek Amazon Store