The best children’s movies will be entertaining for both kids and adults. The Muppet Movie, for example, had characters like Kermit and Fozzie that were already loved by kids, but added great cameos from popular stars such as Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, and Bob Hope. Fred Savage helped win over the kiddie audience in The Princess Bride with lines like, “Is this a kissing book?” while stars like Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal kept the grownups rolling in the aisles. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, while not destined for the same classic status as those films, still has the same qualities and is a fantastic time for the whole family.
When our sequel opens, Larry Daley has quit his job as night guard at the American Museum of Natural History and has entered the lucrative world of infomercials to sell his inventions such as the glow-in-the-dark flashlight. When he goes back to the museum for a visit, he discovers that most of the exhibits have been shipped off to the Smithsonian to be archived and stored. In the middle of the night, Larry receives a desperate phone call from his old friend Jedediah (Owen Wilson) saying that Ahkmenrah’s older brother, the evil Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) is attacking everyone and wants the Golden Tablet of Ahkmunrah for himself so he can rule the world. Kahmunrah joins forces with Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest), Napoleon Bonaparte (Alain Chabet), and young Al Capone (Jon Bernthal) and Larry must team up with Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), General Custer (Bill Hader), and a host of other humorous historical figures to stop them and save the exhibits.
The hijinks that ensue are fully entertaining on a grand scale. This film takes place throughout the Smithsonian museum, the biggest in the entire world and everything comes to life. Everything! The most visually impressive scene takes place in the Air & Space museum where space shuttles and even the Wright Brothers airplane comes to life. Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial comes to life and has a very funny exchange with Amelia Earhart. There are even singing cherub statues, voiced by the Jonas Brothers. There is so much going on visually and so much silliness that kids will be fully enthralled. And the parade of comedians making cameos in this film – Jonah Hill, Steve Coogan, Mindy Kaling (TV’s The Office), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Craig Robinson (The Office), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) – really makes the film entertaining for adults. There are even cameos for the kids. Darth Vader and Oscar The Grouch make an appearance.
Director Shawn Levy deserves major credit for attempting such an ambitious sequel yet still sticking to educational family friendly material. There is such a shortage of films such as this. Whether you have kids or you don’t, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is well worth your time.
Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital sound, this is a grand movie worthy of a Blu-Ray experience.
Commentary by director Shawn Levy
Commentary by writers Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon
Scavenger Hunt Mode
The Curators of Comedy: Behind the Scenes of Night at the Museum 2 – Lots of information in this behind the scenes featurette. Shawn Levy wanted to make a comedy movie first, family movie second, so there is lots of improv that was included in the film. There’s a very cool set tour with the production designer. Very informative. (27:52)
Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words – The four villians talk about what they’re remembered for throughout history. Very funny! (6:29)
Directing 201: A Day In the Life of Director/Producer Shawn Levy – Man this guy is busy! (19:19)
Caveman Conversations: Survival of the Wittiest – An off-camera interviewer asks the cavemen questions and they grunt their answers. Funny for the kids. (4:18)
Museum Magic: Entering the World of the Photograph – Shows how they filmed the photo scene. Very cool, one of my favorite parts in the film. (5:41)
Secret Doors & Scientists: Behind the Scenes at the American Museum of Natural History – My inner archaeologist loved this featurette which takes you literally behind the scenes at the museum as the scientists there make new discoveries. So cool! (15:58)
Phinding Pharaoh – Hank Azaria tries out the right voice for his character. Very funny stuff. (4:50)
Show Me The Monkey Featurettes – Three featurettes total, showing how they train the monkeys, the monkeys on set, and where the monkeys live. Really boring and actually pretty stupid. (17:59)
The Jonas Brothers in Cherub Bootcamp – This one’s for the tweens. The Jonas Brothers get schooled in how to act like proper cherubs by Shawn Levy. (3:53)
Deleted Scenes – Can be viewed with optional commentary by Shawn Levy, most of them are just extended scenes with lots of improv. Christopher Guest really shines in these, as does Jonah Hill. (total run time 26:44)
Gangster Levy – This is cool, Shawn Levy wanted a slow motion black & white gangster film to show in the museum next to Al Capone’s exhibit but they couldn’t find one like they wanted. So they made their own! (1:57)
Gag Reel – lots more improv and goof-ups. (8:10)
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene – This featurette originally aired on Fox Movie Channel and goes behind the scenes of the big Air & Space Museum scene. (9:36)
Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere – Another featurette for FMC, shows red carpet interviews with the cast at the premiere which was held in front of the Smithsonian museum in D.C. (5:29)
Trailers – Aliens in the Attic, Fame, Amelia, (500) Days of Summer, Post-Grad, All About Steve, Glee
The extras were a bit extensive, and even at 105 minutes the run time felt a little long, but overall Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is a great movie. Highly recommended.
20th Century Fox presents Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Directed by: Shawn Levy. Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson, Christopher Guest. Written by: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon. Running time: 105 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: December 1, 2009. Available at Amazon.com