Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dick Van Dyke
Director: Shawn Levy
Running Time: 108 mins
Night At The Museum is an American film about a man who gets a job as the new night guard at the Museum of Natural History in New York, only to discover that every night, everything in the museum comes to life.
This is a fun family film, with a good sense of adventure, a light-hearted atmosphere, decent comedy and an entertaining central performance by Ben Stiller. That said, it’s not perfect, and is little more than a very generic Hollywood film in terms of its story and drama, and whilst it’s definitely fun for younger viewers, it may feel a little too formulaic for some to really care about it.
First off though, Ben Stiller puts in a great show here. He plays a simple, down-to-earth character, and still puts a great effort in. Although half the time he’s acting against CGI dinosaurs or tiny Owen Wilsons, it feels like he’s having a good time with the adventure of it all, and coupled with his excellent comedic skills, he’s probably the most entertaining part of the film.
Also, the comedy and adventurous atmosphere of the film shines through well, and helps even more to make it an enjoyable watch. It’s not a film that you’re ever wholly invested in, but I found the general sense of fun very appealing, and that made me at least want to care about what’s going on throughout, which doesn’t always happen with these studio family films.
The problem that I have with the film is that it’s very by-the-numbers. It’s completely predictable from the off, and there’s almost nothing different in the middle portion that would make the finale particularly exciting to watch. In general, it’s got everything that the modern Hollywood formula prescribes, and although it makes decent use of it to make a fun film, it’s not the most captivating thing to see. That said, though, it will still be a fun watch for kids.
One final complaint is a little bit of a nit-pick, but it did really get on my nerves. Basically, according to this film, downtown Manhattan is completely empty for all hours of darkness, so therefore everything can go off in and around the museum without anyone noticing. Small it may be, but it’s something that really bugged me and turned me off the idea of this being at all convincing a fantasy story.
Overall, though, Night At The Museum is a fun family adventure, with an entertaining central performance, and although it is incredibly formulaic, kids will love it, and it’s enjoyable enough to watch with some degree of interest, and that’s why it gets a 7.1 from me.