Written by Pirata Hermosa
It’s hard enough to believe that one film about a museum whose exhibits come to life during the night would be a fun exciting film, let alone two. But somehow director Shawn Levy managed to succeed.
The original film was about Larry (Ben Stiller), a guy down on his luck who gets a gig as the late night guard at the American Museum of Natural History. Unbeknownst to him, the exhibits actually come to life at night and there are a lot of tasks he has to do on a nightly basis just to keep them in line.
In the latest incarnation, Larry has moved on to bigger and better things. He’s an infomercial sensation selling all kinds of gimmicks that he has invented. His latest invention is the glow-in-the-dark flashlight. With his new-found fame and fortune, Larry no longer needs to be a night watchman. It’s been two years since he left the museum and only shows up every few months to check on his old friends.
During his latest visit, he discovers that the museum is being modernized with interactive exhibits. This means that all of the old exhibits are being sent into deep storage in the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian. Not only are they going to be shipped away, but the golden tablet of Akmenrah that brings them to life every night is not being sent along.
At first, Larry is slightly bothered by this news and eventually accepts the fate of his friends. His son doesn’t understand his father’s reaction, but when Larry suddenly receives an emergency call from Jedediah (Owen Wilson) the miniature cowboy, the former night watchman decides that he has to do something.
Once he manages to sneak into the underground archives he finds that Dexter, the Capuchin Monkey has stolen the plaque and brought it with him. Now everything in the Smithsonian’s multiple museums has been brought to life and is running amok. While most of the exhibits are friendly, Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), who is Akmenrah’s brother, has gathered some of the world’s most dangerous men to hunt down the life-giving tablet in order to bring his army back to life. It’s up to Larry to stop the pharaoh and save his friends.
The film is very entertaining, and it’s difficult not to be when you have such an all-star cast. Hank Azaria is a major reason for the success of this film. His portrayal of the Pharaoh and the bizarre voice he uses makes every minute he is on screen incredibly funny. The addition of Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart is also a brilliant casting decision. Not only is she stunning to look at, but her spirit and plucky attitude is what gives the film its heart.
This is a two-disc DVD set. Disc 1 contains the full-length feature, has a director’s commentary, a writer’s commentary, and the following special features:
“The Curators of Comedy: Behind the Scenes of Night at the Museum – Battle of the Smithsonian.”
Deleted Scenes: Mostly just a few extended scenes, but there are a couple with Al Capone (Jon Bemthal) that would have been a nice edition. Also, the alternate ending is interesting because the original villains from the first film show up. And those were played by Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs, but unfortunately, their scene would have detracted from the film and were better left out.
Gag Reel: A fairly typical gag reel, but with much better actors unable to get their lines right.
“Phinding Pharaoh”: Having cast Hank Azaria in the role as the pharaoh, Levy turned him loose and let him come up with the voice. This is the video of Azaria in full costume playing around with different accents, such as British, Southern, Cockney, and finally settling on Boris Karloff.
“The Jonas Brothers in Cherub Boot Camp”: It’s pretty funny to watch Levy torturing the brothers by having them training to be cherubs. They must prance around wearing wings, play harps, and practice archery.
Disc 2 is Monkey Mischief and it is filled with monkey-related activities and featurettes.
“Monkey Business” tells how Crystal, the monkey who plays Dexter, was trained and how the cast interacts with her. It deals only with the first film.
“Primate Prima Donnas” is based on the second film. While Crystal played both Dexter and Able, she has a stand-in named Squirt who isn’t as talented that helps during the shooting of the second film when both monkeys must appear together in a scene.
“The Secret Life of a Monkey Movie Star: Life Off Camera”: Home videos strung together to show what the two monkeys do at home. Basically it’s an excuse to put them in different costumes and give them props to show that they play music or spend time in the pool.
Monkey Slap: a video game for Mac or PC. Play as Dexter or a guard and slap one another until your power bar is completely filled. You can slap high or low, dodge backwards or block. It’s rather slow and awkward to play. You’d need to be a very young child to enjoy this game.
“Able & Dexter’s Flights of Fancy” is a trivia game that is run by the two monkeys in the film. They give you a history lesson and then you get a pop quiz in regards to what you just learned. If you succeed you build a flying machine. The game is really simple and made for little kids. The fact that the monkeys just chitter while you read the subtitles is just annoying.