Even though I couldn’t stand it, the original Night At the Museum was at least original and had a “cuteness” factor to it. Oh, and how could I forget — it made a shitload of money worldwide too. But was it really so great that it needed a sequel? Of course not, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood from fleecing their valued customers with crap wrapped in velvet? Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian may be the most blatant “made for money movie” ever put forth.
I say that with confidence as, incredibly, it has lazier writing than the first, uninspired acting by most everyone in it and unimpressive CGI.
Writers, Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon roughly take the same shtick they came up with the first time around, added a few new characters to the mix and concocted an asinine premise to connect it all. After all, there is so many more goodies at the Smithsonian Institution to bring to life than there are at the New York Museum of Natural History. So instead of just getting a pompous Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), annoying miniatures of Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan), and a T-Rex skeleton that thinks it’s a dog, we’re dished a heavy serving of a pathetically overdone Egyptian ruler Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) intent on gaining the tablet that brings the inanimate to life for his own nefarious plot to rule the world.
Trying to stop Kahmunrah and his three underlings — Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), and Napoleon (Alain Chabat) — and get his Museum of Natural History buddies back home is a wholly uninterested Ben Stiller reprising his role as Larry Daley, the now ex-night watchman of the museum. Aiding him in the fight is a cowardly General Custer (Bill Hader) and, pretty much the only bright spot in Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, an extremely perky Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart.
Yep, Amy Adams is quite literally the only pleasing part to the picture, even if her characterization is probably a 180-degree opposite of what the real Amelia Earhart was like (I hardly think she was a bouncy, debutante-like lady). Adams is infectiously and disgustingly adorable — too bad she is swallowed up in this big budget mire.
Which leads to the next head scratcher: Where was this money spent? It’s estimated $150 million was spent on this production but you wouldn’t know it. The computer generated images, which one would guess would take the biggest bite from the wallet, is no better than something you or I could do with our home computers (okay, that is a bit of stretch, but I think you get the idea). Even the “it was so funny in the first film we’ve got to do it again” slap fight scene between Larry and the monkey looked fake, even though I think at least a portion of it was real.
That means everyone, except Amy Adams, showed up for an inflated paycheck — a check they could have at least tried to work for. But in their defense, maybe director Shawn Levy wanted them to drag their asses on camera. I don’t know and, quite frankly, I don’t care. What I know is they should all apologize profusely and return the money paid to them with interest (everyone, that is, but Amy Adams).
So there you have it, promising filmmakers of America. Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian provides the blueprint on how to make a fortune without even remotely trying. I beg of thee, don’t follow it.