Short version: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is a mildly funny and harmless family film about on par with the first movie.
Screen Rant reviews Night at the Museum 2
What’s there to say about the the sequel to the first Night at the Museum? It’s a bit of fluff, something to take the kids to where you might be mildly entertained without having to worry about anything offensive where your kids are involved.
The story picks up a few years after the first film, with Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) now a successful businessman. He has a knack for infomercial-type inventions and is doing very well – financially anyway. He still visits the museum from time to time to visit with his night-animated buddies, but not as often as he used to. It turns out that most of the museum pieces are being replaced by newfangled holographic projection versions, with the current ones being shipped off to storage at the Smithsonian, to be crated forever.
He attempts to intervene but it’s a case of too little, too late – but of course the day is not lost. One thing leads to another and Egyptian prince Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) is awakened with thoughts of world domination on his mind. In the process we once again meet Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Owen Wilson as Jebediah Smith the pint sized cowboy, along with new characters General Custer (played well by Bill Hader) and Amelia Earhart (played by the forever cute and perky Amy Adams).
This film seemed to be more about the performances than the actual story, and there was an interesting conglomeration of characters here. The oddest of the bunch had to be Hank Azaria as the Egyptian prince… he was quite the odd combination here – being just a bit older than him and with the fact he’s always been known as a comedic character actor, I was struck by how he buffed out for the role. What made it weirder was the fact that for some reason the voice they chose for his character was a bad Boris Karloff impersonation with a lisp thrown in for good measure.
Funny? Maybe. Weird? Most definitely.
Beyond that Amy Adams was perky to the point of annoyance (for me, anyway) but the old style skin-tight pants she wore kind of made up for that (what can I say?). I enjoyed Bill Hader’s performance as Custer and brief cameos by Ricky Gervais and Jonah Hill were both quite funny. However as usual (for me) Ben Stiller just seemed… odd. He has a flavor of humor that while I don’t hate it, I just don’t get it and it doesn’t work for me.
Thankfully it’s a fairly short film, clocking in well under two hours. It’s not awful, but nowhere near great – kind of take it or leave it film. But if you’re a parent with some little ones and you’re hungry for movies to take the family to without worrying about anything offensive, it’s a good one to go see. For anyone else, you’ll need to be a Ben Stiller fan – otherwise it’s a definite rental.