CD Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Sequels. Always a tricky business. How to stay true to the original and yet find something fresh. But how do you top your first film’s $250 million domestic and nearly $575 million worldwide box office? Even with 19 museums at their disposal, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN proves that bigger is not always better.
In the sequel, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), now a rich inventor, finds out his beloved museum pieces are being put in storage at the Smithsonian. When Ahkmenrah’s (Rami Malek) older brother, Kah Mun Rah (Hank Azaria), gets ahold of the magic tablet that brings the figures to life, he holds them hostage and Larry comes to the rescue. Unless you’ve seem the first film, there is no emotional investment in the original characters, all of whom play second banana to the new Smithsonian wonders.
With the large collection at the many Smithsonian museums, the filmmaker’s had a chance to educate, as well as entertain, their audience. Instead they chose to dumb down the humor, jettison any semblance of humanity, and focus on non-stop action.
Apparently Alan Silvestri found little inspiration in the film as well. The score, like the film, is so action-focused that one scene or musical cue is much the same as the next. He works in themes from the original score, but the main theme from the sequel is Kah Mun Rah’s ominous, choral-laden theme.
The film and score do come up with one moment of genuine movie magic. Larry and Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) escape the Air & Space Museum by flying out on one of the Wright Brothers’ early planes. As they coast over a nighttime Washington, D.C., the combination of the full moon, the music, and a little piece of history gave me chills.
Though I didn’t find Silvestri’s score to be particularly distinctive (I thought drum machine-heavy tracks like “Getting Past Security” and “On Your Toes” had been retired in the mid-80s or 90s), I still would have preferred the film to end with Silvestri instead of Coldplay.
I found NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN to be an excruciating, humorless afternoon at the multiplex. What little fun the film has can be found in the performances of Azaria and Adams, but that’s not enough to sustain this overly-long, unfunny film that plays out like an extended Saturday NightLive sketch. I shudder to think of further sequels. LARRY AT THE LOUVRE or DALEY AT THE DUOMO, anyone?