Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Night at the Museum


Based on the 1993 children's book by Milan Trenc the narrative follows loveable loser Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), a divorcee who takes the job of night watchman at New York's American Museum of Natural History in order to provide some stability for his 10-year-old son (Jake Cherry). Simple enough, one would think, were it not for one major problem - at night all of the museum exhibits come to life, thanks to a magical Egyptian artifact, making Larry's job a living nightmare.

First, let's go over the highlights of the film...
The effects are excellent, the highlights being a T-Rex skeleton coming to life and rampaging through the museum, and a lot two inch model Roman warriors and cowboys coming to life and engaging in battle. There are some excellent comic moments coming from the alive museum exhibits - such as Dexter the monkey (Crystal the Monkey) stealing Larry's keys and slapping him, the Easter Island Head (Brad Garrett) calling Larry "dum-dum" and demanding "gum-gum", and Larry finding a way to reduce the brutish Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher) to tears. There are also some good performances in the film. Stiller is very entertaining as the down-on-his-luck Larry, who dreams of being an inventor. Arguably, Mickey Rooney steals the show as wizened security guard Gus. Mickey Rooney is always entertaining to watch, but truly stands out in this as the little old guy with ADHD/anger management problems, that longs to beat up Larry, who is at least four decades his younger, causing a laugh a minute when he's onscreen.

Now for the downsides...
There are several cases of misjudged casting in the film, most notable of all being Ricky Gervais as the museum's curator. Gervais isn't that good an actor in the first place - much better in TV sitcoms such as The Office (2001-2003) - and here he is quite wooden, and gives off a tedious, irritating air as he performs. Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt is also a case of misjudged casting as he seems to be trying too hard to portray his character and making Roosevelt very stiff and bland, which will particularly disappoint you if, like me, you fondly remember his performances in Aladdin (1992) and Mrs Doubtfire (1993). There are also a few too many exhibits I feel that get focused on for only a couple of minutes. This is a downside as, I at least, feel that the majority of the characters are underdeveloped. Yes, when all put together they make a fun, enjoyable adventure, but they don't feel real enough as characters thanks to said underdevelopment.

However, don't let the downsides put you off too much, because this is still a very enjoyable piece of family entertainment that is full of thrills and features some good gags.

Ben Stiller, Jake Cherry, Carla Gugino, Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Crystal the Monkey, Ricky Gervais, Brad Garrett, Pierfrancesco Favino, Kim Raver, Paul Rudd.

Saturn nomination: Best Fantasy Film.

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