Reviewing the Reviews: 'Night at the Museum'

102839__night_lPronounced dead on arrival: the $100 million movie whose cast of giants, minis, and monkeys supposedly "comes to life" at night. Ben Stiller (pictured) gets booed and the storytelling gets straight-up insulted. Dammit, critics. Shame on you for making the T-Rex cry.

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wants to see Ben Stiller get mauled: "You know Ben Stiller isn’t coming off well in Night at the Museumwhen his character, a third-shift security guard at New York’s Museumof Natural History, is beset by Attila the Hun and his marauding hordesand you find yourself rooting for the hordes."

Claudia Puig, USA Today: "Stiller is as wooden in many scenes as some of the museum figures during daylight hours."

Justin Chang, Variety: "History comes alive in Night at the Museum — the movie, alas, does not." Or how about vote of confidence? "Yet surprisingly for a film that consists of one eye-popping bedazzlementafter another, the overall feeling provoked is one of blandindifference."

addCredit(“Night at the Museum: Rhythm & Hues”)

David Germain, Associated Press: "Other than the basic plot point of inanimate creatures coming alive andsome occasionally inventive visual effects, Night at the Museum isunimaginative and annoying, as movies by director Shawn Levy (Cheaperby the Dozen, The Pink Panther) often are."

My hypothesis is that these critics weren’t surrounded by gigglylittle kids, as I was at the movie’s New York premiere. Staged insidethe actual American Museum of Natural History, the event itself was atreat, since the children got to sleep over and I got to walk past themoose and the flying squirrels late at night when the lights were off.The movie was fun, too. Think kids like the AMNH guests can spreadenough positive word-of-mouth to counteract the critics? Only time andthe box office figures will tell, right PopWatchers?

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • dma69

    Just seeing the endless commercials for this is making me sick of this film. It looks like another movie with Ben Stiller playing yet ANOTHER loser and way too many special effects. Can’t he play something other than a pathetic loser or a pathetic jerk?

  • Auriana

    The reviews depress me as I really want to enjoy this movie. I mean…museum plus Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, and Dick Van Dyke? I’m sold.

  • Michelle

    I agree with you Helin, my kids can not wait to see this. And the movies that Shawn Levy has done that the critics despised seem to be right up the alley of a 12-15 year old kid. My daughter loved Cheaper by the Dozen and I enjoyed it as well. So we will go see it (on the IMAX, no less) and will probably tell all of our friends to as well.

  • sara

    Both my 7 and 4 year old want to see this movie, so I was relieved when I read the review in my Washington Post and it was Good!!! Either way, we are taking the kids to see it–looks funny and not animated. It also kind of reminds me of the book, From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the kids run away and live in the museum. That was one of my favorite books as a kid.

  • Ep Sato

    DMA and Sara are both right if my screening last night was any indicator. The kids in the screening loved it, clapping at the end and everything. There’s a funny, Shrek-like ending, and the cameos by Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney are downright knee slappingly good.
    However, Stiller DOES indeed play a schmuckety schmuck, and the movie felt overly long at times (hint: Stiller spends more than one night in the museum).
    That all said, Robin Williams turns in a muted role as Teddy Roosevelt that’s worth watching, and the role by one of the wilson brothers as a cowboy who fights it out with Octavious Ceasar was brilliant.
    And Auriana, the Ricky Gervais and Charlie Murphy cameos are cool, but no where near as fun as watching a guy play fetch with a T-Rex.

  • MojoMom

    “Night at the Museum” was a blast! If you like Ben Stiller, you will like this movie. The kids under 10 were all laughing their heads off, and I thought it was entertaining, too. We saw “Charlotte’s Web” the day before, and while it was a “good” movie it wasn’t nearly as much fun. “Museum” takes an absurd premise and runs with it to its logical/illogical conclusion.
    I didn’t like “Cheaper by the Dozen,” by the same director. “Night at the Museum” was totally different. A lot like “Jumanji,” down to the fact that Robin Williams is in it. The special effects are great–it shows you how much we’ve come to take them for granted when we complain there are too many.
    I have suffered through many lame kids’ movies–“taking one for the team.” “Night at the Museum” was one I actually enjoyed.

  • Stephanie

    I saw this because I was bored, but this was clearly a pacifier for kids. the script could have been written better. However, what did critics expect from a children’s mystery novel written by author Milan Trenc? Director Shawn Levy was trying to cash in on the books by Chris Van Allsburgh that were turned into movies (Jumanji,Zathura). I will admit that it was entertaining, and Ben Stiller does well by playing a role that he knows best: an obnoxious pompus loser a-hole who realizes his mistakes. I always loved him in Zolander where he played an obnoxious, vain idiot who realizes his mistake at the end. The best part was the comical chemistry between Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson. Overall it was decent, but not a three stared flick.

  • gabe

    Has Ben met a script he didn’t like? I realize the guy has a family to feed but sheesh, the quality of his movies has gone really down. Is this what he wants his cinematic legacy to be? Mediocre films?
    Has he met a script he didn’t like?

  • Stephanie

    I believe that probably the closest that he ever came to playing a dramatic role was “Permanent Midnight” about the creator of ALF who was hopped up on heroin. However, most of his characters are pretty much the same. There were slight differences like in Dodgeball he was the obnoxious villian, in Zoolander he was the obnoxious idiot model, etc. I would like him to change the formula a bit because the act is getting trite and redundant.

  • Lori

    We got to see this on a free preview screening and loved it. I’m seriously thinking about seeing it again on my dime. I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, especially those with kids. Very fun movie with a great ending.

  • Julie

    Just saw this film with my kids, ages 6 to 15, plus my mother who is 65 (I’m 39). We all thought it was entertaining, funny (brilliantly so in a few places), and that we got our money’s worth. Don’t go in expecting Oscar material, and just enjoy the ride. I usually hate Ben Stiller movies, but here he tones down the gross-out slapstick. There’s slapstick, but not so much with the gross-out. Most of the film is special effects, sure, but it works within the universe of the film and the ending was satisfying. I don’t expect kids’ movies to be superb, gut wrenching treatises on the human condition; I just expect them to be well paced and moderately well written, have an uplifting ending, and that the kids aren’t obnoxious little snots who don’t respect their parents. This movie pretty much covered all the bases for me.

  • Craig

    Good movie with one exception, the ex-wife…
    Allowing children to view her as a typical mother is outrageous. Her role alone should have given this movie an R rating. She is the reason why men are incarcerated for ending their marriages with violence. I almost drug out my 10 year old daughter from this movie, but decided to give her an hour lecture on how bad the mother was and thankfully, that not all mothers are like that. A very perverted role for a mother to tell her child that her father does not love him if he does not have a full time job, that he cannot even visit his child unless certain ‘rules’ are in place. She is a true femi-nazi…..

  • movieluva

    dude! this was one of the most ‘awesomest’ movies ever! the critics are just jealous. that or they REALLY didn’t like it…but I did!!!! Ben Stiller, you were soo awesome! Ha, my family watches this movie whenever it’s on TV. and when it isn’t! OF COURSE we have the DVD! Sorry critics, but if I was one of you, I’d give that movie 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 plus thumbs up (even though I don’t even have that many but the world might have just a bit more) and triple that amount of stars!!!!!! YAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • movieluva

    dude! this was one of the most ‘awesomest’ movies ever! the critics are just jealous. that or they REALLY didn’t like it…but I did!!!! Ben Stiller, you were soo awesome! Ha, my family watches this movie whenever it’s on TV. and when it isn’t! OF COURSE we have the DVD! Sorry critics, but if I was one of you, I’d give that movie 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 plus thumbs up (even though I don’t even have that many but the world might have just a bit more) and triple that amount of stars!!!!!! YAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

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