Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian


The first one was certainly no comedy classic, but it did have a sense of fun, here and there, now and then. That’s almost completely lacking in this one. In the first one, when the scary T. Rex skeleton came to life, it was … scary! At first. And then the punch line was that it was just a big friendly dog who couldn’t resist chasing a stick and bringing it back to you. In this one, nothing scares Ben Stiller or us. He’s seen it all before, and so have we. It’s kind of amazing that with all the technical wizardry on display here, there is so little imagination, so little that really makes us sit up and take notice. Just about the only thing I liked was when they were in the National Gallery of Art (which had a lot of stuff that is not in the Smithsonian, but never mind), when the pictures came to life. At one point Ben Stiller and Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams, the best actor in this turkey) jump into that famous VE-Day photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt of the sailor kissing the nurse. That was fun. There is also a giant balloon-animal dog that we’ve actually seen at the Broad Museum. Other than that, the only pleasures were seeing some of the Smithsonian itself, particularly the Air and Space Museum. Nobody has ever been allowed to film there before. The bright red-orange plane that Amelia flies here is the actual one she crossed the Atlantic in. Most of the rest of the movie was simply teeming with CGI SFX (gosh wow, but we’ve long passed the point where that is enough to carry a movie), and most of the participants had nothing to do but mill around. Hank Azaria was just plain awful, and Owen Wilson as a teeny tiny cowboy was just a pain in the ass, like he was in the first one. I kept wishing somebody would step on him.