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night at the museum

Night at the Museum
Directed by:
Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams, Jake Cherry

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

January 14, 2006

We are often amazed that people with not so much talent, and we do have a list of them, make it into big time movies and/or television. 


Take Ben Stiller for example.  His face is so devoid of expression and deadpan when he delivers his lines or does his acting.  Sometimes deadpan is good in comedy if you are against another comedian, but not in the movies that he has played so far.  It is just that he does not have it.  Now, take a look at Eddie Murphy, his face comes alive when he says something or gestures at something.  It is not just the dialogue; you can laugh by just looking at his facial expressions.

For those of you who do not know, Ben is the son of Ann Meara and the grumpy Jerry Stiller. The duo had a series of comedy shows for years and somehow managed to get their son Ben and daughter Amy into show business as well.

In this movie, Stiller plays the part of a ne’er-do-well divorced father (Larry Daley) who is a dreamer.  He loves his son Nick and tries to impress him but does not have the means or the imagination for success.  The son’s stepfather is a bond trader who makes lots of money.

In desperation, Larry takes a job as a night watchman in the Museum of Natural History in New York. He is supposed to replace three old timers played by Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs who are about to be declared redundant as part of a cost cutting move.

What he does not know is that the museum comes alive at night thanks to a magical Egyptian tablet that belongs to a Pharaoh whose mummy is also on display at the museum.

The three night guards are actually planning to rob valuable museum artifacts starting with the tablet and blame Larry for the whole thing.

On his first night Larry is attacked by cowboys, Attila and the Huns, lions, miniature Roman soldiers and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

In the nick of time he is rescued by President Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams.) who takes him under his wing.

On the second night he learns to control the inhabitants and he is so sure of his abilities that he takes his son with him to show him the nightly activities.

Needless to say, the villains led by Dick Van Dyke, sabotage his efforts and steal the Egyptian tablet and some valuable artifacts. 

With the help of the museum denizens, his son and Teddy Roosevelt he captures the bad guys and saves the museum and the artifacts.  He also wins the heart of Rebecca played by Carla Gugino who is an aspiring author working at the museum.

We have seen and heard Mickey Rooney wallow in self pity and lament the fact that he used to be such a world class star who stopped the traffic during his visits in Europe and dined with Kings and princes.  Hey man, just think about it, you have slept with at least nine women and are still alive and working.  And all those Royals Mickey? ……They are dead!

In this movie Mickey Rooney is playing the role of a second class cretin.  All he does is howl at Larry.  Dick Van Dyke’s acting is OK, nothing to write home about.   Anne Meara, Ben’s mother, has an uncredited role as Debbie, the woman in the employment agency.

Veteran actor Robin Williams outshines Ben Stiller hands down.  He is so natural and brings a sense of joie de vivre to the screen even when he plays a dead president.   We have seen him in some goofy movies but when he plays real comedy as in this movie he is delightful.

We selected this as our movie of the month despite non-acting on the part of its star Ben Stiller.  The story was engaging and the special effects were great.  It is good family fare.

We give it starstar

Go and see it with the family.

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