This got two sequels. I find this fact pretty amusing.
Many years ago, I held a grudge against Ben Stiller. I thought he was a dumb actor that only took on dumb roles. My entire reasoning for this was that my cousin—someone I at that point looked up to—did not like him. Why this was, I have no idea, but because he didn’t like him, the internal pressure of going with the flow won out and it tweaked my brain a certain way. I didn’t like Ben Stiller.
This may have affected the score I gave this upon my latest re-watch, because I’ve actually seen this quite a few times. Maybe as many as four, but I know for a fact I’ve seen it more than once. It may even be a fact that I saw this around the time it first came out on DVD, whether late 2006 or early 2007, I don’t know. The last time before this time was nine years ago, according to Rotten Tomatoes, and those were very dark and cynical days. A far cry from the first time, when I actually really liked this film. (And part of why I secretly liked Ben Stiller.)
There is some lingering nostalgia present, which came to me like butter melting in a pan above a fire. Night at the Museum ended up being a very easy watch for me. Progressed rather smoothly, the interactions were rarely hard to watch, and everyone had an alright performance, outside of the sillier characters (Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan laid it on too thick). Almost half of this film consists of Ben Stiller getting fucked by inhabitants of the museum, so if that sounds like your thing, this might be a nice way to spend an evening.
However, much of the cynicism I had for this film as “the next Roger Ebert” still holds true, even if for different reasons (I have no idea why I disliked this the last time). Certain subplots are really glossed over, including the public’s disinterest in the museum and the former night guards’ motivation to [spoiler]. Recall when I said everyone had alright performances? I neglected to mention one weak link: the kid. Did not hold up to the rather lax standards, and almost every delivery from him was pretty hilarious. Even worse is that the writing treated him as if he were another adult, speaking to his father (as, like, a ten-year-old?) with maturity and a notable lack of respect. There was an additional implied love interest for Stiller? I guess? She served very little purpose to the plot at all. Why even include it?
In terms of production, demographic, and star power, this is a pretty family-oriented film that doesn’t desire to challenge anyone. Pretty straightforward in its sincerity, granted with some aura of lower-grade humor. Never laughed at all while watching this (nor did I expect to); kept each scene pretty busy and did what it could to make things as flavorful (albeit formulaic) as possible. Dick Van Dyke was pretty fun to watch… not sure why.
A lot of it is dumb. Some of it is amusing. Effects aren’t particularly amazing, either. One can empathize with Stiller’s character’s problems, which help in giving weight to the things that happen to him. Seems like a decent guy, maybe that’s enough. A simple watch for simple pleasures, nothing more. One can tell I’m running out of things to say, considering how bland this film is.
Final Score: 5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
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