The American Museum of Natural History is one the most iconic cultural institutions in the world. Unlike its counterparts that focus on paintings, photographs and sculptures created by artists, the 100 plus year old establishment has always been devoted to the curation of exhibits focused on the natural world. Upon seeing these exhibits of dinosaurs and animals, many visitors have exclaimed, ‘it looks so real.” In 2006, “Night at the Museum” developed that concept. Since the original film and its sequel were box office successes, a third will soon be released. It will feature two of the last performances by recently deceased actors Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney.
“Night at the Museum” stars Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, a down-on-his luck divorced dad who is forced to take a night watchman job at the venerable New York museum. He replaces three older guards: Cecil (played by Dick Van Dyke), Gus (played by Rooney) and Reginald (played by Bill Cobbs). At the museum, Larry befriends Rebecca (played by Carla Gugino), a knowledgeable graduate student/museum docent. But his new boss, McPhee (played by Ricky Gervais), does not like him. His first night on the job reveals a huge shock; Larry discovers that all the attractions and figures come to life at night and controlling them requires enormous effort. Among the figures are Jedidiah (played by Owen Wilson), a miniature cowboy who cannot stand another miniature, Roman emperor Octavius (played by Steve Coogan). Larry gets help from a life size model of former president Teddy Roosevelt (played by Williams).
The special effects in “Night at the Museum” are impressive. They are mostly played for great laughs. This is especially true with a skeleton of a T-Rex that comes to life and acts like a dog.
The cast is very strong. Ben Stiller is hilarious as Larry, who does not like his new job but does it to impress his son. Robin Williams is also superb as Teddy Roosevelt, who has a crush on a figure of Sacajawea.
“Night at the Museum” is an enjoyable movie with a lot of laughs.