Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian
Magic is about to bring life to the Smithsonian Museum.
History doesn’t have to be boring and Night at the Museum proved that when it literally brought the past to life with the help of computer generated animation. Unfortunately the creative concept doesn’t work quite so well in this sequel.
Part of the problem lies in the sheer size of the cast. Not only does Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian introduce viewers to a whole new crowd of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln (voice by Hank Azaria), Abel the space monkey, and the Tuskegee Airmen (Keith Powell, Craig Robinson), it also crates up most of the characters from the first film and hauls them along for this outing as well. After a while, it feels like you’re trying to keep track of an entire kindergarten class on a school fieldtrip.
The script also gets sidetracked with a number of vignettes that introduce even more characters, like a chubby security guard and some office workers that have nothing to do with the rest of the movie. The first of these scenes takes place in Larry Daley’s (Ben Stiller) office where he is now the CEO of a company that develops and hawks infomercial type products. There is never an explanation for his sudden success, but suffice it to say he doesn’t hang out much at the Museum of Natural History any more.
However, when his former friends are packed up and shipped off to cold storage in the basement of the Smithsonian, Larry trades his business suit for a stolen access card and some guard garb in order to help them.
It seems the golden tablet is working the same kind of magic in Washington D.C. as it did in New York City. As a result, the Egyptian ruler Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) has teamed up with Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), Napoleon Bonaparte (Alain Chabat) and Al Capone (Jon Bernthal). He plans to summon his army from another dimension and take over the world. (Honestly, this must be the most overused plot on the planet.)
With the help of his past pals, including Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan), and some new recruits like Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and a trio of singing cherubs (voiced by the Jonas Brothers), Larry intends to keep history from repeating itself. Yet the comedic timing and cumbersome script can’t keep pace with the original film.
Fortunately there are enough jokes and visual effects to keep most kids entertained and only moderate amounts of slapstick violence and moments of peril. But with centuries’ worth of history to revisit and acres of exhibits in the world’s largest museum, it might have been better to leave the old characters under wraps and focus solely on the new ones.