Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Fun, but unneeded.

Bigger is not always better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s awful, either. For Night at the Museum, it seems to me that bigger was probably the best way to go since they insisted on making a sequel regardless. A big part of what made the original good was its heart and family-centered plot with Ben Stiller’s character and his son. That was big, but most people focused only on the magical museum aspect…which is understandable – so yeah, the whole father/son story was basically discarded in the sequel. What’s left is the magical museum, and just…basically more of that in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

To give you a better idea, New York’s Museum of Natural History has gotten a technology upgrade – so a majority of their wax figures are no longer needed, so they are going into deep storage at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. However, Larry Daley has since quit the night guard position to pursue a different career – but he is brought back into the life of a night guard when he spends one more night in a museum – the biggest museum in the world – the Smithsonian. He must save his friends from a new threat.

You know, there’s something kind of interesting about this film. The first film’s title actually refers to about three nights at a museum while this technically is actually one long night. For what it’s worth, I thought that was really smart. Thing was, Larry just puts on a uniform, he doesn’t actually work there, so the entire film is really just Larry committing an extended episode of breaking and entering – but I digress. What I really want to mention is that when you remove the heart of the first film, you should at least keep all of the characters from the first – and this didn’t really do that.

The sequel had most of the characters, but it doesn’t take a genius to notice that a majority of them are simply background characters anyways, including Larry’s son. The whole movie wanted to make things bigger in terms of the museum – so more interesting things are coming to life – that’s obvious here, and great, but the film has almost no heart and took away a lot of the characters you loved in the first film and replaced them with other characters that just didn’t do it. Instead of Teddy Roosevelt, you had Amy Adams play Amelia Earhart – a love interest to Larry, yes you heard me right. They got rid of the T-Rex to introduce a giant squid. A squid. Finally, the main bad guy was played by Hank Azaria, and there was something about his voice this time that really got on my nerves.

Yes, yes, the creativity in terms of things coming to life was a lot bigger this time around, and if you’re watching just for that – this film will satisfy. There is some very funny things coming to life in this film as well. I also want to point out that the first film’s main plot was drowned out by the whole museum aspect – and the sequel had the museum aspect as the main plot. So was it more understandable and did it feel more solid in what it was going for…in a way, absolutely. The only problem is that I don’t really care. The heart of the franchise is Larry, his devotion to his family, and coming to terms with what he was meant to do in life…which for the most part was ignored in the sequel.

The Good:

Tell you what, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian had some interesting elements as far as inanimate objects coming to life. Some of it was absolutely hilarious to watch just in general. It may have its flaws, but I honestly believe it’s just a fun movie in general.

The Bad:

It discarded all of the real elements of the first film that made it what it was and mostly didn’t even care to replace those elements with anything else. It just…it is what it is. It has no real heart because all it really wants to do is make you laugh temporarily.

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