Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Posted on November 30, 2009 at 8:00 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild action and brief language
Profanity: Brief schoolyard language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extensive comic/action violence, no one hurt
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: May 22, 2009
Date Released to DVD: December 1, 2009
Amazon.com ASIN: B002GJTYIW

Everything is bigger, better, and especially funnier in this sequel to the surprise hit Night at the Museum. In the original, Larry (Ben Stiller) was an unsuccessful inventor who took at job as a security guard at New York’s Museum of Natural History and found that all of the exhibits came to life at night. With the help of Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), and the young Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Larry was able to reconcile the dispute between a cowboy named Jedediah (Owen Wilson) with his neighboring diorama-mate Octavius (Steve Coogan), tame both a dinosaur skeleton and an enormous totemic sculpture, and defeat the bad guys who tried to set him up and steal the magic tablet.

As this film begins, Larry has achieved his dream of success and is doing infomercials with inventions like the glow-in-the-dark flashlight. He is so busy he seldom sees his old friends at the museum and he is shocked to find that they have all been packed up. The museum is going all 2.0 and is about to be tricked up with fancy interactive animatronics. And all of the old exhibits are being shipped off to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, not for display but for storage.

And that is how Larry, the Museum of Natural History exhibits from the first movie, and dozens of new characters from the world’s biggest museum complex in Washington DC, the Smithsonian. Ahkmenrah’s evil brother Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) wants to use the tablet to raise an army of the dead to take over the world. Larry will have to rely on his old friends and some new ones, like Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hadar) to fight Kahmunrah and his allies Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), Napoleon (Alain Chabat), and Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), who is in black and white because he was brought to life from an old photograph.

Yes, even the pictures, paintings, the gift shop bobble heads and the sculptures come to life in this film and there is one sequence where Larry escapes into Alfred Eisenstadt’s classic photo of VJ Day in Times Square, and he later empties the water out of a Turner seascape. The special effects are exceptionally well done, but what makes the movie work is its inspired cast, all having a blast and trying to top each other. Over and over, the same old gag works just fine as the best all-star comedy cast since “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” finds the sweet spot between action and inspired silliness.

Related Tags:

 

Action/Adventure Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Fantasy For the Whole Family

10 Replies to “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”

  1. I just ponied up the 14.50 to see Star Trek on IMAX – worth every penny! Now I might have to do the same for Night at the Museum, Smithsonian edition! This is getting expensive! But I love the first one, and the Smithsonian is close to my idea of Olympus/Valhalla/Heaven, so I will just have to dig around behind the cushions and under the car seats in the hopes that I can discover another 58 quarters. Excuse me, this may take a while…

  2. Come to Washington! In honor of the movie, they’re hosting a slumber party sleep-over in the museum. Wouldn’t that be a blast! I definitely want to see it again in IMAX.

  3. O Wow, what a concept! If only I could. I don;t know in which rooms I would want to spend the night. Certainly the dinosaur halls would be awesome. But I would also like to be near the Muppets and Julia Child’s kitchen. O but those planes at Air & Space could be totally cool too. And I can’t even begin to guess which paintings would be the coolest. Imagine being able to tour the whole thing at night (though the coolest place of all at night in DC is the Korean War Memorial – designed for night viewing)
    But work happens (in my case especially on the weekends). I hope you get to go and take notes for those of us left in the hinterlands. Thanks for planting the fantasy in my mind!

  4. Hello again Nell!
    As usual I refer to your information before venturing to a movie with my family that I have not yet seen. In this case I took a little risk based on your rating, but you were clear and precise enough I felt it was a worthwhile risk.
    We were not disappointed. We had the opportunity to see it an IMAX theater and it was fabulous. Both my boys thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed virtually all the way through. They especially liked the reference piece during the credits that gave everyone a chuckle. The cool thing is they both want to visit museums now (and realize this is just a movie) and that is a great result.
    In closing I just wish Hollywood would get it and have more family fare for us to take our children to. I find it hard to believe there isn’t a lot of money in it.
    Thanks again for all you do and the discussion points that really help put it all together for us.

  5. Why is this movie rated for older audiences than the original, which had a “Kindergarten – 3rd Grade” rating?

  6. This one felt more violent to me than the original, Slava33, and it had the crude joke I referred to in my review. I understand that every family is different and my age recommendations are just a general guideline to help parents, along with the specific information about the material in the film, come to a decision that is right for their families.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2021, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik