Night at the Museum 2
Cast: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams
Direction: Shawn Levy
The first Night at the Museum outing (2006) was released here only in a Hindi dubbed version. It might help to recount that the fantasy-adventure dealt with a security guard at New York’s natural history museum where the exhibits come to life at night. The film struck a universal chord, raking in over $ 600 million at the global box office.
Ergo this sequel, again helmed by the workmanlike Shawn Levy (Just Married). Of course, a feeling of déjà vu is unavoidable. After all, the director still aims to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The former night watchman (Stiller, reprising his role from the original) is now a successful entrepreneur. This time around, he must rescue his creaky old pals from a battalion of baddies led by a megalomaniac pharaoh (a welcome new comic character camped up by Hank Azaria).
For a change of scene, the story is relocated to the sprawling Smithsonian complex in Washington DC. The waxworks, statues and miniature figures have been dispatched for storage at the federal archives.
No surprises are in store here. In effect, the plot is as far-fetched as they come, compelling us to suspend disbelief. However, it’s hard not to be charmed by the frantic antics of the reanimated exhibits. There’s the pint-sized gunslinger (Owen Wilson); his Roman centurion cohort (Steve Coogan); a giant Lincoln statue; Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and a trio of singing cherubs (voiced with boy-band verve by the Jonas Brothers).
The film is given an enormous boost by the entrancing computer-generated effects and the brisk pace. There are some stunningly crafted set-pieces such as the one where the protagonists step into the famous V-Day photograph, “The Kiss”, to mingle with the celebrating crowd.
On the other hand, the romantic sub-plot involving the pioneering woman aviator (Adams) is irksomely inane. Moreover, lapses into sentimentality, especially in the latter half, could have been avoided.
Never mind the shortcomings, though. Night at the Museum 2 is recommended for those seeking family-friendly entertainment.