I’m back! I apologize for the hiatus, but between the holidays and working more and trying to read the very long list of books I have, it’s taken a bit to get back to blogging. But, we have lots of fun movies ahead, continuing with the action-adventure category. Onward!
Night at the Museum
A trilogy of films, more comedy than action/adventure per say, but considering they deal with history and a museum, they get placed here. Headlining is Ben Stiller as Larry Daley. Dick Van Dyke (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins) appears as Cecil, Mickey Rooney (whose career stretches back to the 1920s) is Gus, Rickey Gervais (funny man most famous for The Office [no, I haven’t watched]) is the no-nonsense museum director Dr. McPhee. Robin Williams (y’all should know who he is; Mork from Ork, Genie in Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, etc) plays Teddy Roosevelt. Rami Malek (recently played Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody) appears as Ahkmenrah and Owen Wilson is Western miniature Jedediah. In Battle of the Smithsonian, Amy Adams joins as Amelia Earhart and the Jonas Brothers are the three singing cherubs. Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, the Beast in the live-action Beauty and the Beast) joins as Lancelot in Secret of the Tomb, as does Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect; and honestly, not one of my famous actresses; not my kind of humor) as a security guard. Ben Kingsley is Merenhahre, Ahkmenrah’s father, and Brennan Elliott (very popular in Hallmark movies) is Cecil’s father.
In the first movie, Larry ends up taking a job as a night guard at New York City’s Museum of Natural History so he can have a steady income to support his son. The former trio of guards act a little odd and hand him an instruction book, and warn him to not let anything in or out of the museum. Then he’s very surprised when he turns around the first evening and the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is missing. He finds it and it proceeds to chase him, until he reads he is supposed to throw the bone. The skeleton really is just a huge puppy and wants to play fetch. The Easter Island head calls him a dum dum and wants gum gum. Animals are alive, as are all the displays. Luckily, Teddy Roosevelt helps Larry out. He explains that the tablet of Akmenrah brings everything in the museum to life at night.
Come morning, Larry initially wants to quit, but when his son tells him how proud he is, he keeps the job. Cecil the guard suggested he read up on history, so Larry hits the books and even asks questions of the pretty museum docent, Rebecca. Things go better the following night; he sets up his son’s remote-controlled car to drag “Rexie’s” bone around, lets Dexter the monkey steal fake keys, and tries to make peace between the Roman and Western diorama figures. Sadly, it all goes nuts and Dexter lets some of the displays out. The monkey gets in a slapping match with Larry, until Roosevelt puts a stop to it; “who is evolved?”
Larry is almost in danger of losing his job, but begs one more chance. He takes his son to work that evening and puzzlingly, nothing comes to life. The tablet is gone. They discover the three old security guards have stolen it, along with other artifacts. Turns out, the tablet brings back their youth every night and they intend to keep that. They planted evidence, hoping to get Larry fired. It becomes a fight for the tablet and Larry gets the museum displays to work together so they can keep the magic alive. They also release Akmenrah, who is very polite and knowledgeable.
Larry wins out, but is again in danger of being fired. There are news reports of the exhibits outside the museum. Except it has drawn in record crowds, so Larry gets to keep his job, and throws a party at night.
The second film takes place two years later and the displays are getting packed up, ready to be shipped off to the Federal Archives for permanent storage. Larry is now the CEO of Daley Devices, thanks to inventions he’s come up with inspired by his time as a night guard. He visits the museum and speaks to Teddy and finds out what is going on. The museum board wants to see progress, so they are installing lots of new holographic displays. Teddy will remain in New York, as well as Akmenrah and the tablet. Meaning, it is the last night many of the characters will be brought to life. Some blame Larry for not being around for the past year or so to speak for the museum; he’s too busy on his phone.
The next night, Larry gets a call from Jed; they’re in trouble, the monkey has stolen the tablet and its now on its way to D.C. and Akmenrah’s brother, Kamunrah is a bad guy. So Larry is off to D.C., aided a bit by his son. It is his son who points out that there are nineteen museums that make up the Smithsonian Institute and the archives run underneath all of them. Larry finds his friends and the tablet, then Kamunrah, who wants to rule the world and bring back his undead army. Larry escapes, meeting Amelia Earhart and Custer along the way. [I love how Sacajawea finds Custer to be an utter idiot.] Kamunrah gathers Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, and Al Capone to help him. They capture Jed and that forces Larry to agree to find “the secret at the heart of Pharaoh’s tomb” in order to save him. The bust of Teddy Roosevelt helps a bit, but Larry has to find the Einstein bobble-heads at the Air and Space museum.
Side note: I’m a huge fan of the Smithsonian; history major and all that. At one point, I thought of finding a job there (hard to come by). I’ve visited them several times, including as a child. A few memorable experiences: there is a picture of me in Captain Kirk’s chair from the original Star Trek series, and I can distinctly remember looking up at a camouflaged Italian WWII plane and telling my mother it was a “pizza plane.” Mom looks up and yeah, looks like pizza to a three-year-old, with spots that resembled pepperoni. My dad loves planes and flying so we make sure to visit the Air and Space museum and it was nice to revisit a few places when I was on a trip in college.
Back to the film: Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch try to join Kamunrah, but they’re not evil enough. The Tuskegee airmen thank Amelia for “clearing the runway” for them and all the planes and shuttle almost take off in the museum, but Larry says no-go. Einstein reveals the answer is pi. Kamunrah’s men catch up, so Amelia and Larry have to use the Wright flyer to escape. Then crash through the beautiful stained-glass window at the Smithsonian castle. Kamunrah claims the tablet and the combination and opens the door to the Underworld. Half-bird, half-men emerge. Then Abraham Lincoln stomps in and scares the birdmen back to the Underworld. Back-up arrives and Larry gets the bad guys to fight amongst themselves. He pushes Kamunrah through the gate and all is right with their world. Amelia agrees to fly the New Yorkers back before the sun rises.
Larry gets his old night guard job back and implements night hours at the museum, using the living displays instead of holograms. The museum director reveals that a mysterious benefactor donated a large endowment, on the proviso that everything remains the same. Larry happens to spot a woman who looks suspiciously like Amelia Earhart.
In the third movie, the crew heads to London because the magic of the table it fading. This accidentally ruins a huge night at the museum and is close to costing the director his job. Larry finally explains what has been going on and convinces him to send Larry, Akmenrah, and the tablet to the London museum. Teddy, Sacajawea, Atilla, Jed, and Octavius manage to sneak along. They meet Sir Lancelot and journey to find Akmenrah’s parents. The full back story comes out, between Cecil being the boy on the original expedition to find the tablet and the history of the tablet. It must be recharged by the moon every night to keep its power. But it’s been locked floors underground for fifty years. Now it’s a race to get it recharged before all the characters die.
Sadly, Lancelot is a little delusional and takes the tablet, thinking it to be the fabled Holy Grail and he’s determined to find King Arthur (not realizing he is a mythical character). Who he does find is Hugh Jackman playing King Arthur in a production of Camelot. (Yep, that is really Hugh Jackman. He even does a Wolverine bit [hilarious!].) Larry talks Lancelot around and the tablet it recharged just when you think all hope is lost.
The displays come to an agreement; Akmenrah should stay in London with his parents, and the tablet. Teddy and the others will go back to New York, knowing they won’t waken again. Lancelot has come around and will keep the triceratops skeleton in line. Larry’s not ready to lose his friends, but says goodbye nevertheless. Teddy’s final words are “it’s time for your next adventure. Smile, my boy, it’s sunrise.” Larry takes the heat for the disaster at the planetarium opening, losing his job but allowing the director to keep his. Larry goes back to school to get his degree to become a teacher. He watches outside the museum three years later when a display visits from London, including the tablet. The director gets to finally see everything come to life and party.
The film ends “In Loving Memory of Mickey Rooney. And For Robin Williams. Magic Never Ends.” This was their last film…so it makes the ending really sad. Overall, I find these movies hilarious. For me, I already knew a lot of this history, but I hope it inspired others to read more about some of the figures brought to life. Owen Wilson as Jedediah and his conflict with Octavius is probably my favorite part; these little guys taking on a huge world. Robin Williams is superb and it was very surprising the first time to discover that Dick Van Dyke was a bad guy! He’s lovable Bert! And can still dance. Great to see Hugh Jackman’s cameo and Dan Stevens was great as Lancelot.
Next Time: Sahara