Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria
Security guard Larry Daley infiltrates the Smithsonian Institution in order to rescue Jedediah and Octavius, who have been shipped to the museum by mistake.
Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian is busy enough to keep the kids interested but the slapstick goes overboard and the special effects (however well executed) throw the production into mania.
  • 20th Century Fox Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 22 May 2009 Released:
  • 01 Dec 2009 DVD Release:
  • $177.1M Box office:

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Exceeded my Expectations8/10
When I saw the trailer for this, I was pretty excited. I loved the whole premise of the first one, and having a sequel opened up whole new opportunities. I was excited when I saw all these famous characters from history being mashed together, Al Capone, Napoleon Bonaparte, Amelia Earhart, to name a few.

I walked into the theater not expecting to much, but when I left I was very happy with it. They handled every characters personality beautifully, and the inside jokes were hilarious. I don't want to give much away, but trust me, you'll laugh. It tackles many themes like, a house divided cannot stand, the way to happiness is doing what you love, don't dwell on the past, etc. For a family flick they handle this jumbled cast of characters with complex personalities amazingly. They threw away most of the characters from the first movie to make way for the newer characters, which I didn't like that much, but how many characters can you throw in a story to have it make sense?

This film is an amazing example of a movie made for kids and adults. Kids will enjoy the silly humor, and the monkey. While adults will laugh at the onslaught of in-jokes, and trust me, there's a lot.

All in all, this was a great movie, blew me away. The highlight for me was Hank Azaria, that lisp kills me every time.
A good family film, more fun then the first!6/10
Well, it's been 3 years since we had the comedy hit Night at the Museum, naturally they went for a sequel to either make more money or spill the story for what it's worth. Eh, I pick all of thee above. But surprisingly Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was actually a lot better then I had expected, in fact, I think I enjoyed it much more then the first Night at the Museum. Now the first Night at the Museum movie was alright, it didn't really thrill me, Ben Stiller is praised so much as a comedic actor but I've only found him funny in Zoolander. But when it comes to movies like Meet the Parents, There's Something About Mary and Night at the Museum, it's usually the supporting cast that carries the movie and he seems just like the same character in every movie. Once again the supporting cast saves this movie and makes it a great family film.

Larry Daley is now head of Daley Devices, a company he founded to manufacture his inventions. These inventions, including the Glow-in-the-Dark Flashlight, were created from his experiences as a former night guard. He finds that the American Museum of Natural History is closed for upgrades and renovations, and the museum pieces are moving to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. On the last night, Larry meets the museum pieces such as Teddy Roosevelt, Rexy the T Rex Skeleton, and Dexter the Monkey and finds out that several exhibits, including Teddy, Rexy, the Easter Island Head, and Ahkmenrah are not moving to The Smithsonian Institution, the other exhibits will no longer be animated. The next night, Larry gets a call from Jedediah, saying that Dexter stole the tablet, and that Kahmunrah, Ahkmenrah's older brother, is attacking them. Larry takes a plane to Washington and visits the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Castle to find the Federal Archives.

Over all Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is worth the recommendation, I'd say a matinee if you want to see it with the family. Hank Azaria puts a bit of a strange personality for Kahmunrah, but he provides quite a few good laughs. Along with Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan who are back as the cowboy and the roman soldier, great chemistry right there. They have this scene that nearly killed me in laughter, since they're so small they go 300 style in trying to stab all the bad guy's feet, great style and homage to the war films. Amy Adams pulls in a great performance that I feel is going to be over looked as Amelia Earhart, she has that old school Hollywood look to her and personality that was a perfect choice. There are some great moments in this sequel but there are some really silly one's as well, so over all I'd say it's worth the look, it's a good family film, but again nothing too memorable.

Poorly manufactured sequel that stays bearable with a few good characters4/10
The first "Night at the Museum" worked despite conventions for a few reasons, but the main one was that it eased into its premise of museum exhibits coming to life and didn't take it for granted like "Night of the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian" does. I'm actually surprised the writers of the first film wrote this sequel, because Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant handle these characters like they're someone else's creation and they can butcher them all they want.

"Night at the Museum 2" sucks the magic out of the original and overdoses on characters as well as meandering sarcasm and awkward humor. Save some bright spots in character acting from a delightful and plucky Amy Adams and some bright spots from Hank Azaria and Christopher Guest, "Smithsonian" will disappoint most defenders of the first film -- except kids and anyone else who'll bite on an outrageous premise.

Ben Stiller stars again as Larry Daley, only our beloved night security guard has randomly become a mastermind of As Seen on TV products. That decision alone completely destroys the continuity between this film and the last, forcing Larry's story to be something totally different than the single dad trying to be a role model for his son. Now son is hacking into the Smithsonian Institute floor plans to direct his dad to the location of the tablet that brings things to life at night. See the Museum of Natural History is going digital and all the beloved characters of the first film are shipped to the national archives in DC, only that naughty monkey brought the tablet with him and so the Smithsonian has come to life.

Our source of conflict is the Pharaoh at the Smithsonian, Kahmunrah, played by Azaria doing his best Stewie Griffin impression, who wants the tablet to unleash his army, so he gets help from Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible (Guest) and young Al Capone. At least director Shawn Levy realized the asset they had in Azaria and had him voice a couple other key statues that come to life later on. Azaria's too good for this film, really, but he plays at its level instead of pushing it and even manages a few of the better laughs when he puts a major diss on Darth Vader.

Then there's Amy Adams, the lone diamond in a sea of forced comedy and excessive cameos. It might seem like loving Adams is the "it" thing, but she brings the imaginative spirit sorely lacking in the film as Amelia Earheart. Every time she speaks it literally feels like the film gets more believable because she's such a convincing spirit. She also gets to work her best Katherine Hepburn impression to boot.

But "Smithsonian" is more defined by its disappointments and synthetic sequel material. Lennon and Garant try and include too many characters between the old ones and the new ones and the film just feels chaotic. It's like a contest to see how many new ideas of different things they can bring to life from paintings and photos on the wall to historical monuments in DC.

Worst of all, it's completely rushed. Understood that we get the coming-to-life premise and we aren't going to be surprised by it, but they take all the fun out of it. Levy figures a shot a piece of the statues of Amelia and Bill Hader's Col. Custer are adequate foreshadow, but they're not. Daley just cons his way into the archives and the story rockets right into the Smithsonian with a few quick facts about what it is to provide context.

"Night at the Museum 2" does just about everything we used to be terrified of sequels doing in the '90s -- overdoing it and diverting from the core values that won some love for the original because that film wasn't just about things coming to life.

~Steven C
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Underdeveloped Plot and Characters5/10
There's an old saying in Hebrew that claims that if you try and catch as much as you can, you'll end up having nothing at all. After viewing Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, I can sadly say that the same can be said when regarding this lesser sequel to the 2006 smash hit.

Even though most film critics despised the original movie, the first Night at the Museum was actually one of my favorite films of that year. For me, the film worked on two levels. First, by waking the inner-child in all of us and making us feel the magic Ben Stiller's character Larry experiences once the exhibits in his museum come to life in all their glory in front of him. Second, by telling a very straight-out and heart warming coming of age story of a grown-up divorced man who has to take control of his life and get his act together (with the museum working more as a metaphor of sorts). I also related to the additional educational values the film had to offer, another theme I felt received a lesser emphasis in the sequel.

In the second installment of the Night of the Museum series, much of the initial magic is already lost from the get-go. We already know the artifacts come to life and how, and the general feeling of suspense is gone. To make things worse, the whole story feels convoluted and unreal. We're expected to believe that Larry has turned from a no-good night guard at the museum in the first film to this mega-successful businessman in the second installment during the course of only a few years (and after being a virtual nobody for the vast majority of his life). I mean come on, Hollywood - Where did the charming loser from the first film go so quickly? Stiller's Larry is hardly likable at the beginning, and once he learns that his lovable exhibits/friends are moving to the Smithsonian museum (after the Museum of Natural History closed for technological renovation) things start happening so fast, that his motives for leaving his comfortable job to help rescue his friends are left undeveloped and unconvincing.

The main course of this sequel is of course the special effects created by the two museum's re-animated exhibits, with the evil Egyptian Kamunrah (The Simpson's Hank Azaria) acting as the main villain who operates the evil Smithsonian exhibits who strive for world domination yadda yadda yadda. Some effects are cute (Al Capone's gangsters brought back to life in black and white, the heroes entering an old painting, the Lincoln memorial rising from his chair, amongst others) and some are once again undeveloped and underused. At times, it seems so much is happening on the screen, that you don't really know where to look or who to concentrate on. Many returning characters from the first film are outrageously underused (including Robin Williams' Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson's Jedediah) and many comedians who are brought specifically for the film contribute blink-and-you-miss-it performances, including Ricky Gervais and Jonah Hill). The only true contribution for the film is the lovely Amy Adams (Enchanted), who portrays a fluffy re-animated Amelia Earhart who seems more lost than ever.

To sum things up, I'd say that Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian may have been cute at times, but it was mostly useless, as it really didn't add any significant notion to the elements presented in its predecessor. While that film felt like an instant classic to me, this one felt more like a quick money-grab with a lot of missed potential.
The Dumbing Down of American Comedy!1/10
From the outset. I kept wondering how ordinary security guard schlub Ben Stiller could so easily become an infomercial king, hawking glow in the dark flashlights and earning gobs of money. Then I realized that the screenwriters couldn't just have him start off as a security guard at the museum again because people don't want to see the same thing twice when they pay money for a sequel. Nonetheless, the infomercial angle ends up being dropped like a hot potato and Stiller is back at the museum just like in the original. This time he learns that his pals at the Museum of Natural History are being shipped off to the basement archives at the Smithsonian. To make matters worse, they have to deal with some crazy Pharoah guy who needs to figure out a secret code that will unlock a door to ancient Egypt where all of his nasty minions are just waiting to get loose and wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting world.

There are moments in 'Battle for the Smithsonian' that feel like the script was dispensed with and the action was completely improvised. Take the scene with Stiller trying to break into the basement at the Smithsonian, opposed by the security guard played by Jonah Hill. The joke is that the security guard is a wuss and is easily dissuaded by the more persuasive Stiller. And this is the problem for every character in the film. They are all buffoons in one way or another and carry no moral weight.

The antagonist is played by Hank Azaria who has a one note part as a lisping Pharoah, Kahmunrah. He's joined by three villains from history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Ivan the Terrible and a young Al Capone. The three allies of the Egyptian have virtually nothing to do throughout the film—Bonaparte at one point jumps on top of Stiller, Capone waves a machine gun and Ivan basically scowls.

Stiller's allies fare no better. Owen Wilson plays a miniature cowboy trapped inside an hourglass by Kahmunrah. We're supposed to laugh as he is gradually submerged by the sand inside the hourglass pouring down on top of him. Steve Coogan is Wilson's buddy, playing another 'miniature', this time the famous Roman Emperor 'Octavius'. The Emperor's big moment is when he mistakes a squirrel for a giant creature and rides him back into the Smithsonian thinking he can take on Kahmunrah's army of bad guys. No laughs there! Bill Hader plays General Custer with an inferiority complex: he bemoans the fact that he'll always be remembered for his one bad moment at the Little Big Horn with all his other accomplishments ignored. While Custer is a complete clown, the Indian Princess Sacajawea berates him not for his hatred of Native Americans but rather for his incompetence as a soldier.

It takes a long time before Stiller's love interest, feminist icon Amelia Earhardt, played by Amy Adams, does what she does best: i.e. fly a plane. But most of the time she's nothing more than the feeble love interest in the film—chasing Stiller around, acting a bit spunky and providing moral support. Other wasted parts include Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt (in dual incarnations as Teddy on horseback and as a talking bust), a completely forgettable Attila the Hun and a bunch of grunting Neanderthals.

The plot is quite disappointing. After Kahmunrah finds out the 'secret code' from a Bobblehead Albert Einstein and unleashes the forces of evil, they all inexplicably run back into the portal after a giant Abraham Lincoln (roused from his sleep at the Lincoln Memorial) confronts them. Lincoln is reduced to an awkward giant, more like Lurch of the old Adams Family TV series than the great statesman of American history.

'Battle' was written mainly for the special effects department to show their stuff. There are a few clever visual effects when famous paintings come to life (most notable is when Stiller and Adams jump into the famous scene on VJ Day with the sailor and the nurse making out in Times Square). Rodan's 'Thinker' comes to life as a wise-talking Guido and there are three angel statues singing updated rap versions of r&b classics. All of this is nice to look at but it's simply not very funny.

I have never been a big fan of Ben Stiller but here he outdoes himself in a role that relies mainly on slapstick humor. There is nothing clever or witty about Battle for the Smithsonian. It represents a further dumbing down of American comedy. And the producers here should heed the old admonition—what goes around, comes around! Hopefully Kahmunrah will be putting a new curse on them in the future—at the box office, where it hurts!