Night at the Museum(released Dec/06)stars Ben Stiller as Larry Daley,Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt,Jake Cherry as Nicky Daley,Dick Van Dyke as Cecil Fredericks,Carla Gugino as Rebecca Hutman,Mickey Rooney as Gus,Bill Cobbs as Reginald,Owen Wilson as Jedediah and others.This is neat concept taken from a children's book of the same name.The story is neat and clean,generally,and has a good pace.
The story finds Stiller as a struggling single father,trying to keep afloat in so far as looking after his son is concerned.He has had to move a lot over a short period of time and his ex is hounding him.As a last ditch effort he goes to an employment agency who sends him to apply as a security guard at the Museum of Natural History,in the big apple.Acting vets Dick Van Dyke,Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs are on hand as the guards who are passing the torch,so to speak,to Stiller.Van Dyke gives Stiller a tour of the facility,hands him some stapled notes and keys,then leaves.When midnight strikes all the exhibits come to life,in dioramas or standing displays,such as monkeys,lions,wooly mammoths,an Easter Island head,Teddy Roosevelt on a horse,a T-Rex skeleton who plays fetch the bone,and so many more.Stiller is gobsmacked and quits after the first night.As he walks out his son appears with his ex's boyfriend wanting a tour of the museum.Stiller gives him a rain check and decides to try the job one more night.
It seems a golden tablet of a resting pharaoh there is responsible for bringing everything to life.However the curator finds a few messes the next morning after his shift and sacks him.His son just happens to walk in to see what took place,and leaves crushed.Back home at night Stiller explains that it was all a misunderstanding,he has his job back and that he wants his son to accompany him to work that night.At midnight Stiller prepares his son for what is about to happen...but nothing does.He checks out the pharaohs room to find the tablet gone.Soon Stiller learns that the ex guards are in the process of stealing the museums greatest artifacts,including the gold tablet,and are going to fence them in order to pad their retirement income.Stiller leaps into action and succeeds in getting the entire exhibits-brought-to-life to assist him in capturing the guards.After an up and down battle the guards are caught and everything is returned to its normal spot.The guards are made to be janitors to get out of being arrested and the outside antics of some of the museums living displays got on the previous nights news and attendance has suddenly shot up,to the pleasant surprise of the curator.
As I mentioned the film moves along at a good pace and there is little filler here to slow the film down.There are a lot of little neat moments such as Dexter the monkey's close encounters with Stiller,vis a' vis the slapping routine and the constant stealing of Stiller's keys.Teddy Roosevelt's presence(Williams) is a neat touch as he offers Stiller some good advice throughout.This movie will especially appeal to children and the children in all of us due to the myriad of creatures both ancient and new that walk the museum halls after midnight.Watch for Stiller's real life mother Ann Meara who makes a delightful appearance as the employment agent.Also it was an absolute joy seeing Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke playing the security guards.They've still got it!
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1 :85:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include only commentary.
All in all a nice little distraction that will have the children in all of us in awe at what they see re-created on the screen.The movie has a decent pace to it,and while it is far from perfect,I did enjoy it.Recommended.