When I saw Night at the Museum projected on the big screen, I found myself having a good time in spite of myself. I remember walking into the theater and wanting to enjoy it, but also wanting to not enjoy it too much. Why I had that approach I have no idea. Despite those intentions, my defenses were quickly worn down and I found myself sucked into this delightful family fantasy.
Revisiting now on DVD, I find I have no defense against the charms contained within. Is it a great movie? No, not really, but what it does do is hit all the right notes and deliver a wide-eyed spectacle that has a lot of heart. You will turn it off at the end with a smile on your face, and perhaps the desire to visit a museum to see where "history comes to life!"
Night at the Museum doesn't allow itself to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of why the museum's denizens come to life. To try to give any sort of real explanation and dig into the supernatural aspects of it would have proven to be death to the comedy. Am I sure of that? No, not at all, but that is what I feel. I much prefer the approach of getting in, accepting what is happening, and really playing up the fatastic aspects. The movie gets down to the task at hand in short order; director Shawn Levy knows what we wanted from it. With a title like Night at the Museum, we want to be immersed in the night at the museum.
Ben Stiller stars as Larry Daley, a divorced father who is trying to connect with his son. Between the two are many barriers that must be crossed. You see, Larry is a man of many schemes, none of which work, and which have left him down on his luck, regularly evicted from his various living quarters, fired from his jobs, and wondering if the moment to connect with his son has passed. This leads him to the position of night guard at the Museum of Natural History. So, the story, at its heart, leads to the connection between father and son, and it is rather sweet to watch the progression of their relationship from the brink of disaster to the precipice of forever.