» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

January 8, 2007
Ben Stiller plays Ben Stiller in this Shawn Levy-directed kid flick and/or two-hour-long advertisement for New York's Museum of Natural History. I know I'm coming across as really harsh, but it just so happens that usually I like Ben Stiller, I like kids' movies, and I'm down with some CGI history. And with a cast roster that seems to be pulling out all the stops (Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, and even Dick Van Dyke, for Pete's sake), I couldn't really see how this tasty bit of holiday fluff could go wrong.

Afterwards, two blocks away from the theater, when I realized I had basically forgotten what film I had just seen, I knew that Night at the Museum had gotten the better of us all. Director Shawn Levy tricks intelligent adults to fork over eleven bucks each by dangling promises of top quality special effects, performances by talented comedians, and a premise as magical as anyone in the throes of holiday goodness could wish for. Instead of Home Alone for the 21st century, however, we get a bunch of good caveman costumes and realistic looking lions but no script and few laughs.

Maybe it's not the script's fault, though. Maybe it's the fact that Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller were really and truly hilarious gents... 500 films ago. At this point, watching them play the exact same characters yet again was almost embarrassing. I half expected Vince Vaughn to lumber out of an exhibit in boxers and a t-shirt, babbling about beer and chicks. Ricky Gervais was only mildly entertaining, Steve Coogan was under-used, and I keep forgetting Robin Williams was even in it at all. Furthermore, I challenge anyone to find one person who feels comfortable with Dick Van Dyke playing a villain. The shining star in the film - and the only one who seemed to generally put any effort into his role - was Mickey Rooney. The guy's, what - almost 90? - but his lines were delivered with such force that the audience couldn't help but laugh.

Admittedly, the special effects were cool, but at this point, that's not enough. We take special effects for granted these days. A Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton running around, wagging its tail? No big deal. Mickey Rooney doing a roundhouse kick to the face? Please! A film can't depend solely on CGI anymore. We need a story and some dialogue that doesn't feel like it was thrown together at the last second. And, while I'm issuing demands, how about an ending that doesn't involve the entire Roman Empire dancing to hip hop.

I do have a sneaking suspicion that Night at the Museum isn't really trying to be a good film at all. Larry (Ben Stiller) gets sacked after the museum is trashed and the inhabitants escape during his watch... but as the museum director (Gervais) knows, any publicity is good publicity. And publicity is key, the filmmakers obviously believe; what better way to promote a museum that's being rendered obsolete by the Internet than to cram it full of well-liked actors, project it on a big screen, and make it look fun as hell? On this point, Night at the Museum is a resounding success. I do want to head over to the Museum of Natural History now. In fact, I might go tomorrow. I'll just get out my wallet andů damn you, Stiller!

SEE ALSO: www.nightatthemuseum.com

Susan Howson
A staff writer attending graduate school in Richmond, VA, Susan Howson cannot be persuaded to stop talking about movies.

See other articles by Susan Howson.



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