Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
3/5   UK title: Night at the Museum 2
dir Shawn Levy
scr Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
with Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams, Christopher Guest, Ricky Gervais, Jake Cherry, Alain Chabat, Bill Hader, Jon Bernthal
release UK 20.May.09, US 22.May.09
09/Fox 1h45
Night at the Museum 2
Come fly with me: Adams and Stiller

azaria wilson coogan
See also:
Night at the Museum (2006) Night at the Museum 3 (2014)
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Night at the Museum 2 There's a slightly out-of-control atmosphere that makes this corny romp much more entertaining than the original. The script is just as simplistic and lazy, but the characters are much more fun.

Former museum guard Larry (Stiller) has somehow become a celebrity inventor, revisiting his old pals in the museum after sundown, when everyone comes to life, when he needs inspiration. But now they're being mothballed into storage under the Smithsonian in Washington, and when that museum comes to life, Larry heads off to rescue them. Working with Amelia Airhart (Adams) and other new friends, he must foil the dastardly plans of the evil Kahmunrah (Azaria).

The entire cast is back, including Wilson and Coogan as a miniature cowboy and centurion, Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, and Gervais (doing his Office shtick) as Larry's smarmy boss. All of them get more to do this time, and the new characters are more fun as well, most notably the terrific Adams, a bundle of moxie as the aviatrix who's never met a challenge (or man) she didn't like. Guest is terrific as Ivan the Terrible, and Hader makes an hilariously vain General Custer.

But the film belongs to Azaria, who brings a bit of Count Chocula to his role and makes a fine foil for eager straight-man Stiller. There are also lively cameos from Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill, plus the voices of Eugene Levy and the Jonas Brothers. And director Levy clearly let his talented actors run off-script to improve some fabulously surreal comedy dialog. There are also some extremely inventive effects when events spill into the art museum.

Otherwise, of course, the screenwriters don't give a moment's thought for logic (the museum doors are never locked, and where did they find that completely deserted Manhattan street, even in the middle of the night?). But never mind, this is the kind of film the first one should have been, focussing on the characters over the plot and keeping things moving so fast that you hardly have time to stop and think how ludicrous it is that Abe Lincoln strolls out of his memorial for some trite moralising. But never mind, bring on part 3. The Louvre beckons.

cert pg themes,, violence, innuendo 20.May.09

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