Museum worth visiting a second time
Though it gets off to a slow start, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, eventually succeeds to charm us much like the first film, primarily because of its game cast. Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley, now a successful “inventor” who’s left his security guard uniform behind. Consumed by his work, he’s unaware that the New York museum he once watched over is being renovated and that many of exhibits that spring to life at night are being shipped to storage in the vaults beneath the Smithsonian. Even more troubling is the fact that the powerful Egyptian tablet that animates them is also packed for the trip, which spells trouble for the Washington museum when it brings the power-hungry pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) to life.
Stiller seems initially disengaged, but once his character meets Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), he comes to life much like the inanimate objects in the museum. He and Adams have a genuine spark and the actress continues to show that she’s not only one of the most talented actresses working today, but also the most charming. Azaria is also a standout, lisping like Karloff but buffoonish rather than menacing. You can’t help but laugh as he windmills in frustration when his simple instructions are ignored or when he praises the comfortable throne of Archie Bunker.
The film is a bit long, but it’s a visual knockout, what with Al Capone permanently rendered in black and white and the mash up of figures from various historical eras. However, the highlight is when Larry and Amelia find themselves interacting with various paintings that have come to life. From this sequence, Night at the Museum: A Trip to the Louvre seems like a no-brainer and I’ll be there with bells on.