Director: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 82
A Dad in need of a job in order to restore his son’s faith in him finds night guard work at a history museum where the exhibits come to life when the sun goes down.
A certain percentage of viewers will conclude that Night at the Museum was the dumbest movie they have ever seen, but if you are willing to make one large leap of faith with regards to the premise, you’ll find that the entertaining story, brisk action, decent comedy, and fun special effects in this movie will bring a smile to your face. This is an hour and a half well spent. We happily present Night at the Museum with a Bronze Explosion Award for its daring premise and the skill with which it realizes its potential.
A movie with a premise this stupid risks being one of the worst movies ever made. Think about it: the main premise supporting this movie is a history museum where the exhibits come to life every night? Are you joking? But I have to hand it to Shawn Levy. However improbably, he manages to keep build a sustainable movie around this premise and carries it off with incredible flair. This movie was one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable movies I have seen in a long while.
Honestly, though, to enjoy this movie you’ve got to make a huge jump in suspending your disbelief with regards to the underlying concept, and then hold your mind back from exploring the obvious implications and consequences of such absurdness. If you can’t do that, you will likely find this movie the dumbest film of the year. If, however, you are willing to give Night at the Museum the benefit of the doubt with regards to its premise, you’ll find an action comedy with a lot to like.
Pacing—which drags in the beginning—picks up nicely and sustains a brisk pace once Larry, the main character, gets his job at the museum. From that point, the movie flies along like a T-Rex fetching bones. The movie is packed with action, both as a central element of the main story and as a backdrop to it; the film does a great job of creating the hilarity of an out-of-control museum.
The high quality cast, the decent script, and the effective special effects bring the movie to life. Ben Stiller acts well enough as the main character, but the star-laden cast shines in support. Deserving special mention are Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Rick Gervais as Larry’s boss, and Dick Van Dyke as one of the older night guards. The script is reasonably well developed for a movie with this much goofiness, and the one-liners range from innocuous to downright funny. They help deliver a plot that is surprisingly tight. The frantic ending wraps up the loose ends in the story tightly, and brings the main story to an effective end.
Adding another element of fun to the movie is the bonanza of cute special effects, from full-scale battles between miniature cowboys and Roman soldiers, to a massive T-Rex skeleton that chases bones around the museum. Technologically, there is nothing here that you haven’t seen before, but the sum of the effects puts a shine on this movie, and everything fits nicely within the story.
While part of the comedy is delivered through the script, much of it comes from slapstick action. I’m not a big fan of slapstick, and Night at the Museum has its share of pucks hitting people in the head, monkeys biting people on the nose, and cavemen playing with fire extinguishers. To the movie’s credit, they usually move through these scenes briskly, which is a key to effective slapstick. Kiddies will love this stuff, and adults will likely chuckle at some of it.
This movie is clearly aimed at a family audience; explosions, sex, and violent action are non-existent. There is one thing to mention here, however: Mizuo Peck, as the Native America scout Sacajawea, is stunningly beautiful in her role, and adds points to the babe factor. Elsewhere, we’ve got Ben Stiller and Robin Williams, so there’s not much to work with. Owen Wilson could help out here from the women’s vantage point, but he’s only four-inches tall for much of the movie, so there isn’t much to see.
A certain percentage of viewers will conclude that Night at the Museum was the dumbest movie they have ever seen, but if you are willing to make that one large leap of faith with regards to the premise, you’ll find that the entertaining story, brisk action, decent comedy, and fun special effects in this movie will bring a smile to your face. This is an hour and a half well spent. We happily present Night at the Museum with a Bronze Explosion Award for its daring premise and the skill with which it realizes its potential.
Consistent Premise: 74
Body Count: 2
Time to First Dead Body: Long
Special Effects: 88
Overall: 82 (Bronze Explosion Award Winner)