Making the Grades
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is divorced, unemployed and about to be evicted -- again. Yet the string of failures he calls his life pulls him up short when he realizes his habitual instability is causing his ten-year-old son Nick (Jake Cherry) to lose faith in him. Desperate to change this past pattern, Larry agrees to take a menial job as a night watchman at the New York City Museum.
Because babysitting a dark building full of inanimate statues, miniature panoramas, taxidermy animals and preserved skeletons doesn't sound like it should take much skill, Larry pays little attention to the job training or instruction manual provided by the three elderly security guards (played by Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs) whom he will be replacing. But the sun has barely set before he regrets having not asked the experienced gentlemen a few more questions about the post.
The first clue noticed by the novice shift-worker that something unusual is afoot is the disappearance of the large T-rex display by the front door. But the mystery of the missing dinosaur proves to be the least of his perplexing problems after Larry stumbles into the enormous, now-ambulatory skeleton a few moments later. While fleeing from the frightening creature, the hunted man discovers the beast is not the only artifact that has literally come to life. Everything in the museum has been resurrected and is now living out its history, including an aggressive Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), a horse-riding Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), a miniature gun-slinging cowboy (Owen Wilson) and an equally tiny Roman centurion (Steve Coogan).
In the ensuing mayhem a mischievous monkey from the African Mammals exhibit steals Larry's keys, leaving the defenseless man to fend for himself amidst troops of bayonet-bearing American Revolutionary Soldiers, swarms of miniscule, poisonous-dart-blowing Mayans and some large-as-life, hungry lions. Although all of these potentially life-threatening situations are played for laughs, they may still scare very young viewers. Other content concerns are minimal, consisting of a couple of mild profanities, some terms of deity used as expletives, and a few verbal sexual innuendos.
Yet, for a silly story aimed at children, the film (which mixes live action and computer animation) does offer positive messages about teamwork, cooperation, and taking control of one's life--with an ample helping of history appreciation on the side. Playing out like an amusement park ride, Night at the Museum may be the perfect choice for an enjoyable night at the movies with your kids.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Night at the Museum.
What does Teddy Roosevelt mean when he tells Larry, “Some men are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them”? Which of these two statements describes Larry? Which describes Teddy? How can you apply this message in your life?
Larry is reminded that if people don’t learn from the past, them may make the same mistakes in the future. What does Larry learn from the past? How does that change his future? Although the movie is an exaggerated example of this council, how is it true in real life? What lessons can you learn from history?