Saturday, April 17, 2010

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I'm a history buff so I get a lot of fun from these Ben Stiller movies. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian does a lot of what the first movie did well while adding a little too much goofiness for my taste.

This time around, the Egyptian artifact and a majority of the historical figures from the first film get transported to the Smithsonian archives. Here they encounter an evil Egyptian lord who wants to take over the world and they do battle to prevent this from happening.

It feels like the producers of this movie lost a bet with Hank Azaria of The Simpsons fame and they were forced to give him a ridiculous amount of screen time and he was allowed to act as absurdly as he wanted to.

His portrayal of the Egyptian lord is simply jaw dropping in it's horribleness. Now, I know he's obviously not playing this anywhere close to straight but some of his choices are just bad. An over-the-top lisp in a character is kind of funny—if it's a small part—but, Azaria is in like 65% of this movie and the lisp takes the viewer right out of the little bit of plot there is to get invested in.

There are some exchanges between Azaria and Stiller that are painful to watch. They are trying their best to improv on the spot and score a little bit of movie magic but it doesn't work and the scenes just go on and on. You can literally see their brains working to come up with a funny quip, and, while they are both funny men, Robin Williams they are not.

There are a few decent performances in the film. Amy Adams has a good time portraying Amelia Earheart but her infatuation with Stiller's character is very forced. Owen Wilson's role as the miniature cowboy is expanded more and he has some fun lines and moments in the film.

I thought the classic paintings and photographs that come to life and interact with the characters was one of the more interesting additions to the film. Of course, it's a blatant rip-off of the Hogwarts paintings moving about in the Harry Potter franchise but it's cool nonetheless.

If you enjoyed the first film of the series or you want to see the train wreck that is Hank Azaria overacting, I think the film is enjoyable enough to sit through. Oh, and Darth Vader is in it, albeit, he doesn't talk and it's just for a small gag. But, it's Darth Vader. Bonus.

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