Night at the Museum (DVD)

Museums are odd places – they’re eerily quiet, there’s never usually anything new to look at, and for the most part, you’re ready to leave after about half-an-hour. Same must apply to any film with the word “Museum” in the title.


Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Carla Gugino, Kim Raver, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, Ricky Gervais, Rami Malek, Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson

Museums are odd places – they’re eerily quiet, there’s never usually anything new to look at, and for the most part, you’re ready to leave after about half-an-hour. Same must apply to any film with the word “Museum” in the title.

An expensive Christmasy offering from director Shawn Levy (“Cheaper by the Dozen”) and producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”), the exuberant but only mildly entertaining “Night at the Museum” is another of these “one note event movies” with plans to pilfer the kiddies (or, more likely, mum and dad’s) cash these holidays.

Ben Stiller (Strange casting choice because kids won’t know him from a bar of soap) plays the newly appointed night watchman of a city museum. On his first night on the job – as hinted by the previous nightwatchmen (Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs); all retiring – he discovers that history really does “come alive” at his new workplace, as everything and everyone from Dinosaurs to Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), cowboys (Owen Wilson, naturally; attached to Stiller’s hip, cameo’s as the ringleader) and Atilla the Hun turn, well, real. At least, until morning.

I didn’t stick around long enough to see, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there’s a part-financing credit to the National Museum of History tacked onto the end of the movie. It’s the only thing that makes sense. I mean, what benefit does the film have to anyone else but a slowed-down attraction beseeching young visitors over the holidays? Not much. Well, not if the littlies have seen “Jumanji” (1995) or “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989), anyway.

This is a strange beast indeed. Devoid of laughs, lacking a workable plot, but with an amazing cast – the fact that Levy has rounded up Van Dyke, Rooney and Cobbs to play pivotal parts in the film is a coup in itself – that seem to be carrying on as if they’re in the next big blockbuster, “A Night at the Museum” is like a wearisome party made tolerable thanks to some old friends that welcomingly turn up at the last minute.

For all intents and purposes, this is a kids’ flick – but even they’ll get a bit twitchy by the time the middle act (essentially just a repeat of the first act) kicks in. There’s only so many times you can watch Ben Stiller play tag with a bunch of wax dolls that have come to life before it gets old, ya know?

Still, the youngsters will probably be entertained enough by it, I guess, but then again, letting them run under the sprinkler for an hour might also do the trick.

Be interested to see whether museum patronage increases as a result.

DVD extras – not that I could’ve given two hoots about any of them – include dual commentaries (the one from the writers was actually pretty funny); deleted scenes; a fluffy EPK-style making of; blooper reel (worth a look); and a bunch of featurettes concentrating on everything from costumes to making sense of the storyboards. Few other bits and bobs on here, too. Enough stuff, but only for those that actually enjoyed the film.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris