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Week 15: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian [May. 19th, 2009|06:41 pm]
The Independent Film Forum


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The next film up for discussion in the Independent Film Forum will be Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Does the sequel to the 2006 family hitmovie, starring Ben Stiller, really warrant another night at the movies? And does former indie queen Amy Adams (above) as his love interest create any sizzling chemistry? Add your comments below and we'll print the best in next week's paper.

The Independent's Anthony Quinn was far from impressed in his review:
"As a blockbuster that's intended to turn history into, like, fun for kids, this is not as irksome as Nicolas Cage's two National Treasure movies. But it's still strictly insufferable... It's an expensively silly farrago that includes Steve Coogan's Roman general riding a squirrel and Stiller having a slapping match with a pair of capuchin monkeys – not as much fun as it sounds... There are some fancy art references at work – paintings by Turner, Hopper and Grant Wood that come to life – but one fears they'll be wasted on a target audience that just wants to see Stiller being chased by monsters."

This is what Empire Magazine's reviewer thought:
"But as the film is racing by, much of the entertainment comes from cameo-spotting. Jonah Hill is easy, but Jay Baruchel, Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest and the Jonas boys all feature, and the wittiest cameo sees Clint Howard nod to his Apollo 13 role as a Mission Control specialist. Not all the gags hit, by any means, but they fly thick and fast.

It’s just a shame that a franchise rife with the potential for family-friendly historical humour — smart little nods to the Napoleon complex and Custer’s (Bill Hader) appalling war record notwithstanding — so frequently defaults to monkey-slapping and pop-culture gags. Still, this is a bigger and better night out than the first."

Over to you. Time to have your say.

From: ln_parks
2009-05-22 02:03 pm (UTC)
I went with my son and I have to say neither of us were terribly impressed. The humour/reference aimed at parents/adults wear thin fairly quickly and my son just thought it was rather dull I'm afraid. Most of the big name cameos meant nothing to him, and as I said their knowing gags for adults weren't great. Hopefully this isn't the best of the big summer family films or we'll have to avoid the cinema for a while.
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From: chicunique
2009-05-23 10:03 pm (UTC)

Ben Stiller could read the Rosetta Stone and I would laugh

Want to sail away from the monochrome malady that we currently call living, for a few hours? Then go and see 'Night of the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian'. It is a rare film that outshines its original but this film does exactly that as easily as a diamond outshines a cubic zirconia. I don't know which writers jumped on board but the magic that this film radiates would do David Copperfield proud. American and British comedians blend effortlessly in this sequel with Ricky Gervais's cameo curiously resembling a young Winston Churchill with a character that has more than a dash of the not-so-dashing David Brent. Steve Coogan's role is a bit more meaty this time - he is still an earnest Octavius but has a few more lines and genuine laugh out loud moments. Ben Stiller is being Ben Stiller - wry and dry and trying desperately to hide his nervousness (unsuccessfully) but with eyes like that, who gives a flying Pterodactyl? If I recall rightly, there was only one witty moment in the original (Attila the Hun learning the source of his brutality, if you were wondering) but in this film, the wit is too abundant to detail. The soundtrack is worth a mention as it is used very effectively and is nearly as catchy as 'Pirates of the Caribbean' (but not quite).

In this sequel, all the action takes place in Washington's Smithsonian Art Museum and this, I think, is what makes this film more interesting because the artefacts are more familiar. From Rodin's thinker (who's hilariously a bit thick) to his prancing ballerina sculpture, AND all the artwork comes alive which, in itself, is enough for me to give this film top marks for originality. If Tim Burton rewound 40 years and made movies as a child, he would make films like this: serenading cherubs; lurching and heaving woolly mammoths; and a giant-sized moving statue of Abraham Lincoln; the child in me nearly wet herself.

The humour of this film hangs largely (and loosely) on historical facts and figures which makes it entertaining for closet geeks, and also brilliant for children as they can learn as they laugh, (and there were more than a few childlike titters as the capuchin monkeys had a slap-off with our hapless hero); I haven't laughed so much at a film for ages. It takes about 20 minutes to realise that this film is far superior to its predecessor - it has wit, romance, meaning (yes, really) and innocent humour dotted through it - and if you think the French nudist in 'Along Came Polly' could only do that one role, think again as he does a fabulous turn as a lisping, British-sounding, dress-wearing, ancient Egyptian with megalomaniacal tendencies (I think that just about sums him up). He meanders from comical to evil in the glint of a kohl-less Egyptian eye.

This film left me wondering whether I am a child or an adult and I haven't felt like this since I got a black eye after trying to walk through the back of my wardrobe after watching 'The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe' or the time when I tried to emulate Peter Pan and launched myself off my mum's antique wardrobe only to catch my privates on a nearby hat stand (just the sight of mahogany still makes my eyes water). Not since I saw ET fly over the moon or Chitty take flight, have I wondered at such fantastical images. The child inside you will melt, my friend, and if it doesn't then you need to wake that child up - they're probably just snoozing anyway but I can give you a film list that might rouse that child, but you can jump-start them with this one.
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From: gsgordon
2009-05-25 03:41 pm (UTC)
I liked it! A nice, easy popcorn, fun film. Not high art obviously but a great cast and some great performance; some silly jokes and silly fun. Not essentially to see it in the cinema but worth watching if you want to see no nonsense entertainment.
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From: terryburnside23
2009-05-25 04:09 pm (UTC)
That film was absolutely terrible. There's no point in sugar coating it. Why make this dross? Will kids like it? I would doubt it. Do they even know who Ben Stiller is. Poor gags , a dull story and little life. And there was very little to entertain adults either. What shame, too, to see classy actors like Amy Adams in this. There's nothing wrong with making a Hollywood movie for a nice pay-cheque but they could have at least put her talents to good us.
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From: noblelox
2009-05-27 12:41 am (UTC)


Only 4 reviews and a couple of those just pan it with no real explanation. And Ben Stiller reading the Rosetta Stone?? Really the cultural references need to be that dull and dry to work here?

Any child who fails to enjoy this film, must have had the joy ripped from their lives and replaced with Violin lessons as "Fun will never get you into Eaton!" Any well balanced child will find lots to enjoy in this romp, especially Steve Coogan on a squirrel. Hank Azaria and Amy Adams are excellent casting and make this film better than the first.
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[User Picture]From: mrdrummond1987
2009-06-19 08:05 am (UTC)

The best review, "Don't trust me on this movie, it rubbed me the wrong way"

Ebert has excelled himself here, normally it's worth reading his reviews of films he hates just for the entertainment value but this is something special


My favourite part is when he thinks about whether it's time for an Amelia Earhart biopic before crashing back to Earth and remembering he's watching Night at the Museum 2
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