Night at the Museum

Release date: December 22, 2006
Run time: 1hr. 49min.
Rating: PG: mild action, brief rude humor.
Cast: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke.
Director: Shawn Levy.
Genre: Action/adventure/comedy/sci-fi/fantasy.
3 stars.

Suspenseful, but not scary. Practically the whole family can see this one. Ben Stiller is goofy and believable as Larry Daley, a deadbeat dad shamed by his son’s admiration for his new step-dad and his step-dad’s income. When Erica Daley (Kim Raver), threatens to refuse to let son Nick Daley (Jake Cherry) visit his dad if he moves yet again, Larry decides it’s time to get a regular job and, this time, he’ll take anything that’s going. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, Larry lands a job as night watchman at the Natural History Museum, a position by the way that no one has been able to hold for more than one night. The reason? All of the animals and warriors come to life due to an ancient spell brought about by the gold tablet of Ahkmenrah.

For the first time ever, Larry can’t escape the life’s real problems; they literally follow him around the museum. First it’s the T-rex who wants to play “bone,” then it’s the Roman army against the cowboys of the wildwest. If the lions don’t get Larry, Attilla the Hun will. Mentor Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) delivers all the lines that barely pull the lightly sketched story-points together: “Some men are born great; others have greatness thrust upon them.” Like it or not, Larry has to face the music. In doing so, he learns to believe in himself, gaining his son’s respect at the same time.

Similar to Jumanji but without the bite, Night at the Museum gets off to a bumpy start. If you can survive the weak acting in Act 1, however, the special effects in Act II are worth the wait. Ben Stiller soars to the occasion against giants Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney.

Playing at the Empire, Oakridge

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