Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Is Funnier Than You Think

Maybe it’s the bumbling charm of a Ben Stiller character. Maybe it’s the plethora of comedic actors in cameo roles. Maybe it’s just Amy Adams because Amy Adams is Amy Adams and always great no matter what, even in this movie, in which she’s forced to interact with singing CGI cupid statues voiced by the Jonas Brothers.

Basically, I can’t give one definitive reason why I like this movie. It’s all of the above, and honestly more — though it’s hard to explain.

But let me try…

First of all, it obviously helps to go into a movie like this knowing it’s going to be silly. And this one totally is. But it has fun with it (even when some of the jokes, I’ll admit, run thin and it seems like the gags were way more fun for the cast and crew in the moment).

What the movie deserves credit for, though, is not dumbing itself down just because it’s a family movie. There’s an expected dose of corniness but the movie is also filled with line-o-rama style improv, not afraid to let actors like Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Jonah Hill, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, and Robin Williams (just to name a few) do their thing and go wild. The improv-heavy scenes, while maybe a bit long, are much needed, as there’s not much of an actual plot here. And sure, this improv is tame, but it still manages to be funny. (Shout-out also goes to the Reno 911! guys, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, for writing the script (they wrote the first movie as well).)

It’s sketch comedy for your kids. Really. And not like 90’s Nickelodeon “Kenan & Kel/All That” sketch comedy. This is some decent, fairly respectable shit. And that’s partly because director Sean Levy takes off the leash — as long as everyone keeps it PG. It also helps that it’s clear that everyone is having fun with it, milking the premise and their characters to the last drop.

No one is having as much fun as Amy Adams, though — at the end of the day, it’s her dedication to just roll with it and be a good sport that really makes it all click.

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She breathes life into the movie. She’s charismatic and adorable as hell as Amelia Earhart brought to life and totally game for the silliness (playing a dead woman falling in love with a living man doesn’t really seem to bother her one bit). Not once does she betray any sign of only being there for the paycheck. It’s admirable. Her presence is also refreshing because she’s basically the only woman in the entire movie — someone needed to break up this sausage fest and her bubbly sunshine-ness is perfect for that.

And, briefly, let’s talk about those breeches she wears. I know the real Amelia Earhart did not wear breeches like that. But, hey, Amy sure does. And I’m not really complaining. You go, Amy. You look great.

Last thing — there’s a certain 90’s nostalgia going on here (which makes sense with Chris Columbus in the producer’s chair). That nostalgia probably has something to do with my fondness for the movie. Look, I know this it isn’t that great of a film. But it hits the sweet spot, you know? Bottom line, it’s candy. You enjoy it. And then forget about it. Like some of the 90’s movies I grew up on. Sometimes, you can’t ask for much more than that.

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