Movie Review

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

When the lights go off the battle is on.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Movie Poster

US Release Date: 05-22-2009

Directed by: Shawn Levy


  • Ben Stiller
  • Larry Daley
  • Amy Adams
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Owen Wilson
  • Jedediah Smith
  • Hank Azaria
  • Kahmunrah/The Thinker/Abe Lincoln
  • Robin Williams
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • Christopher Guest
  • Ivan the Terrible
  • Alain Chabat
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Steve Coogan
  • Octavius
  • Ricky Gervais
  • Dr. McPhee
  • Bill Hader
  • General George Armstrong Custer
  • Jon Bernthal
  • Al Capone
  • Patrick Gallagher
  • Attila the Hun
  • Rami Malek
  • Ahkmenrah
  • Jay Baruchel
  • Sailor Joey Motorola
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: May 25th, 2009
Hank Azaria is a scene-stealer in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Hank Azaria is a scene-stealer in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Night at the Museum was one of those movies that surprised me. I saw it with low expectations and ended up enjoying it and in fact, I've seen it several times now and enjoyed it each time. It's innocent, fast paced fun. This, its sequel, is more of the same. It doesn't quite equal the original, but still provides fun for children of all ages.

The movie opens a few years after the last and Larry Daley (Stiller) is no longer a night guard at the Natural History Museum. He now owns his own gadget company and only occasionally drops in at the museum to visit his old friends, the exhibits that come to life at night. The plot gets moving when Larry learns that a lot of the older exhibits in the museum are being moved into storage to make way for holographic displays. Larry can't let this happen so he follows the exhibits to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, where they've been moved into the archives below the museums.

Nearly all of the rest of the movie takes place over the course of one night as Larry tracks down his friends and helps them battle Kahmunrah (Azaria), the brother of Ahkmenrah, the Egyptian mummy from the first movie, whose golden plaque brings everyone to life. Kahmunrah wants to use the plaque to free an army from the underworld and take over the world, while Larry just wants his friends back where they belong.

Along with the main characters from the first movie; Teddy Roosevelt, Sacajawea, Jedediah, Octavius etc., this time around Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, and Custer are along for the ride. Providing a love interest for Larry is Amelia Earhart, played by the always charming Amy Adams. Adams makes anything better and she's good as the plucky aviator. No mention is made of Larry's girlfriend from the first movie.

It is hands down Hank Azaria as Kahmunrah who steals the show. His lisping pronunciation makes everything he says sound funny and he gets the best lines. While he's recruiting his henchmen from the museum exhibits both Oscar from Sesame Street and Darth Vader volunteer to join him, but he tells Oscar that he seems more grouchy than really evil and to Vader, "Is that you breathing? Because I can't hear myself think! There's too much going on here; you're asthmatic, you're a robot. And why the cape? Are we going to the opera? I don't think so."

Good use is made of the various exhibits. Paintings and photos come to life. At one point Larry and Amelia enter "V-J Day in Times Square" by Alfred Eisenstaedt, that famous photograph of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Since the Smithsonian comprises so many different museums though, we see all kinds of exhibits coming to life including Degas' famous ballet girl and Rodin's Thinker statue. Even Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln memorial puts in an appearance.

My only complaint is that they didn't find a way to bring back Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke. They were two of my favorite characters the first time around, especially Rooney. They should have at least given them a cameo.

If you enjoyed the first Night at the Museum then you should definitely find plenty to enjoy in its sequel. If you didn't like the first one, then lighten up! Sure, it's lightweight entertainment, but it's quality lightweight entertainment.

Reviewed on: May 27th, 2009
Ben Stiller and Amy Adams.

Ben Stiller and Amy Adams.

I actually liked this one better than the first. It is still aimed at children and the plot is a bit hokey. Jebediah telling Larry that, “I didn't call you because we were in trouble... okay, we were in a pickle. But I called you because you needed us.” is far too gooey. The ending is likewise sweeter than an overdose of Pixiesticks.

However, the movie takes full advantage of several of the Smithsonian’s displays and artwork. Kahmunrah uses a famous television chair as a throne. Some The Tuskegee Air Men help Larry out. The scene of him trying to stop the rocket launch features Clint Howard, in a nod to Apollo 13. It is fascinating when they go into the Eisenstaedt photo, but the scene felt incomplete as it involves Larry losing his cellphone, only to be found by a confused sailor, played by Jay Baruchel from Tropic Thunder?

The best decision was the addition of Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart. Not only is her way of speaking a stitch, “You’ve got moxie!”, “We’ve been jimmy-jacked!” She adds a love interest for Larry, thus carrying the movie to an inevitable conclusion. She also looks good in those tight pants.

Whereas Scott missed Mickey Rooney, I was hoping Paul Rudd would make an appearance. His sarcastic delivery and slow burn can add to any line or scene. Although Larry’s son has a small part, and detailed blueprints, his ex-wife is no where to be seen. This keeps the focus on his adventure in the museum, making for a fun, and sometimes educational, fast paced romp.

Reviewed on: June 3rd, 2010
Watch out for that shark!

Watch out for that shark!

The first movie was charming, funny and original. This movie is just too busy. Stiller and company throw out everything but the kitchen sink at us. Yes it is fast-paced and still enjoyable but not as good as the original. Like Scott I missed Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke. I also agree that Amy Adams makes a great comic Amelia Earhart. She is the perfect combination of sass and sex appeal. Hank Azaria I didn’t find funny. His lisping Egyptian Pharaoh was just stupid to me. Yes, this is a complete fantasy but at least the first movie kept things mostly within the confines of the museum. In this one the action goes outside in such a destructive manner that it could not possibly go unnoticed. Night at the Museum 2 is clever and imaginative but comes perilously close to jumping the shark.

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