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History Comes Alive! Night at the Museum is Fun and Fantastic

We’ve all had the same daydream about toys or mannequins coming to life. Walking through a museum, one can’t help but wonder what would happen if the statues and wax figures began to move around. In the new family comedy from director Shawn Levy, the New York Natural History Museum becomes the setting for a fantastic experience as an unsuspecting Ben Stiller takes a job as a watchman in Night at the Museum.
Night at the Museum

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller, left) and Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) explore the incredible events taking place all around them in a natural history museum. (20th Century Fox, 2006)
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Written by: Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon, based on the book by Milan Trenc
Starring: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, and Robin Williams

Rated PG (for mild action, language and brief rude humor)
Running time: 108 min.

When Larry Daley (Stiller) finds himself on the verge of being evicted, his ex-wife convinces him to find a steady job for the sake of their son Nick (Jake Cherry). Daley, who has dreams of being great, finds himself reluctantly accepting a position as the new night guard at the local museum.

Larry does not anticipate the level of activity on his shift. The dinosaur skeleton comes to life, the animal figures roam the halls, and the miniatures from the diorama room battle with one another. All of the life in the museum is the side effect of an ancient golden tablet from the Egyptian pharaoh of Ahkmenrah. The tablet is magic and brings the dead to life from sundown to sunrise.

With some help from a wax figure of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Larry manages to survive his first shift but doesn’t know if he can make a living at it. He resigns, but for the sake of his son he asks for his job back.

Utilizing amazing special effects and makeup, Night at the Museum becomes an amazing adaptation of the picture book by Milan Trenc. Filled with humor and adventure, the film manages to capture the spirit of wonder in the same vein as films like Jumanji or The Polar Express.

Night at the Museum has a plethora of guest cameos, including Owen Wilson as the miniature cowboy Jedadiah, Steve Coogan as his miniature Roman rival Octavius, Ricky Gervais as the museum director Dr. McPhee, and Paul Rudd as Nick’s new step-father, Don.

Adding a dash of old-time fun to the mix are veteran actors Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs as the old night watchmen who are retiring. They give Larry a list of instructions to help, but don’t bother to warn him about the unusual nature of the museum’s night life. As it turns out, they have an agenda of their own. Seeing Van Dyke on the big screen is a treat and worth the price of admission.

To my surprise, the film was a delightful family picture. With Stiller in the lead, I expected a lower level of humor. Usually when you pair up Stiller and Wilson, you get more mature-natured jokes. While there were a couple of subtle nudges for the adults in the audience, there was nothing inappropriate in this film. It’s a fantastic voyage into the world of history and make believe. (Reviewed by www.filmguru.net)

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