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Yawn at the Museum

By Elvis D'Silva
July 24, 2009 09:53 IST
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A scene from Night At the Museum: Battle of The SmithsonianThe only good thing one can say about a movie like Night At the Museum: Battle of The Smithsonian is that it provided gainful employment for a few hundred behind-the-scenes people. Since a lot of those people are wage-earners who need to continue to pay off their mortgages, good for them.

This was clearly an enterprise undertaken solely to capitalise on the success of the previous film and allow another unimaginative Hollywood studio the opportunity to take more money away from the paying customer, so please don't hold your breath for artistic merit in this movie.

I suppose a perfunctory discussion of plot must be undertaken but it really seems pointless to spend more energy discussing a work than was spent in actually developing it. One can almost hear the conversation that must have taken place between whatever groups of people needed to talk before this steaming pile of dino dung was greenlit -- "What say guys, shall we go make another gazillion dollars from the chumps who will pay to sit through another hour-and-a-half of museum artifacts coming to life?" Who can say no to a gig like that, right?

This time around, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is successful. His inventions have achieved mass market success and he is now a rich guy who gets driven to the Museum of Natural History in a limousine where he hangs out with his 'historical figure' buddies when the sun goes down. Okay, so? Where's the movie in that right? So, for the purpose of plot development, Larry finds out that his buddies are being sent to the Federal Archives in Washington.

A scene from Night At the Museum: Battle of The SmithsonianOh no! What will happen to Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan) and the rest of that lot? Larry will never see them again!

So what? He will have his big successful business and his son to keep him occupied and happy right? Hell no!

See Larry is not happy, he hasn't been happy ever since he gave up being a museum guard. In this movie he has to 'find his happiness' and apparently the only way for him to do so, is by breaking into the Smithsonian's vaults and reuniting with his old buddies one more time.

But wait, that's still not enough plot. So let's toss in the evil Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria, who does triple duty by also voicing Abraham Lincoln and The Thinker when those statues come to life) who plans to use the magical tablet that brings the statues to life to cause unimagined destruction in his quest to rule the world. Sigh.

A scene from Night At the Museum: Battle of The SmithsonianSo Larry (rocking a ridiculous haircut that resembles the hairdo of the killing machine in the original Terminator) pairs up with Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) to vanquish Kahmunrah and his evil henchmen. And hilarity and mesmerising visuals unfold...

Well, not quite.

We've all seen better special effects and heard funnier jokes before. Actually there is precious little that is even smile-worthy in this movie. The performances range from the hammy (Azaria) to the perky (Adams) to so-wooden-you-could-play-cricket-with-it (Stiller). The leading man manages to force his features into a smile maybe once in this whole enterprise and for the rest of this movie he just holds that expression of neutral befuddlement that used to be amusing, once.

Still, this movie made a ton of money so perhaps the joke is really on us. We keep paying for stuff like this and nobody can feign surprise when Night At The Museum: Louvre Landing is announced. I just hope they pay me the appropriate royalty for coming up with that name.

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Elvis D'Silva