DVD Release Date:  March 27, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  December 22, 2006
Rating:  PG (for mild action, language and brief rude humor)
Genre:  Comedy/Family/Action-Adventure
Run Time:  108 min.
Director:  Shawn Levy
Actors:  Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Carla Gugino, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Kim Raver, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd

In a role that’s not as over-the-top as his usual “Zoolander” or “Meet the Parents” fare, Ben Stiller plays a down-on-his-luck, divorced dad named Larry Daley.

As the unsuccessful inventor of the “snapper” (a device very similar to the clapper except that someone snaps his/her fingers to activate it instead of clapping), Larry bounces from job to job while his ex-wife’s fiancé Don (a very funny Paul Rudd in a limited role) climbs the corporate ladder as a bond trader.

Now this probably wouldn’t bother Larry nearly as much if his son Nicky (Jake Cherry) wasn’t involved. See, Nicky’s protective Mom (Kim Raver) has about had it with Larry’s unstable life and no longer thinks he’s a good example to their son. Determined to prove himself as a father so he can retain his visitation rights, Larry makes his way to the local temp agency where there’s only one job available as a night guard at the local history museum.

While not exactly the glamorous gig he hoped for, he agrees to take the job. Of course, this is where the story really gets interesting as this is hardly your normal museum. History does indeed come to life as pretty museum guide Rebecca (Carla Gugino) unknowingly told visiting students earlier in the day.

As night falls, the exhibits spring to life with varying problems for Larry in the process. The T-Rex chases after him and wants to play catch with a bone. The irritable lions need to be caged, and a talking Easter Island head is demanding bubble gum. Meanwhile, Attila and his fellow huns are roaming around the premises, and in the miniature displays, a Roman general and an overeager cowboy (a hilarious Owen Wilson) are on conflicting paths of expansion. And we won’t even go into his troubles with the supposedly sweet kleptomaniac monkey.

Then to add another dose of drama, the former night guards, played by the older-but-wiser Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs, had a suspicious agenda of their own with hiring Larry for the job.

Now without getting into many more specifics for those wanting to see the movie, here’s the bottom line. "The Museum" is generally entertaining from start to finish. Showing another side of his acting range, Stiller is sensitive when he needs to be, and depending on your sense of humor, very funny as he finds himself in one wacky situation after another.

While there’s certainly a few questionable moments with the movie’s worldview (see Cautions below) and a lengthy run time, "Night at the Museum" is largely a flick that both kids and adults will enjoy. And for those who’ve already seen “Happy Feet” and “Charlotte’s Web” over the holiday break, it provides another entertaining and mostly family-friendly alternative.
 
But even though the story takes place in a museum, don’t expect to learn much about history in the process.
 
AUDIENCE:  6 and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Language/Profanity:  A couple of profanities, and a couple of instances where God’s name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, although some adults may pick up on the reference to last year’s controversial film “Brokeback Mountain” when Owen Wilson says “I’m not quitting you” to the Roman war general.
  • Violence: Lots of the comic variety. Since several of the museum “characters” are from different wars throughout history, they tend to like to fight with guns, swords, etc. There’s also some slapstick violence where a monkey and a human hit each other. Also, when the T-Rex and the lions comes to life, it may be a bit scary for some children.
  • Worldview:  The huns, particularly Attila, are obsessed with magic and things of a mystical nature. Also, evolution is an accepted belief as discussion is made about which animals humans evolved from.