This movie never won an Oscar for anything, will never be listed in the AFI top 100 of anything, but it is full of fun, cute, and funny, and tops the list of my all time favourites. There are many reasons why, but I don’t think I can list them all here. Could be the story of a confused loser who finds a different kind of success in an unusual place. Could be all the historical figures interacting with this one night guard who thinks he can get the best of them after learning a little bit about them, but they still turn the tables on him. It could be the great finale featuring the Earth, Wind, & Fire music. Let’s get a quick summary. Oddly, when I was in 4th grade, every time we watched some kind of movie in school, the teacher would make us write a summary/essay on what we saw. I really hated it then, but it’s different when you do it for movies you like, the movies you want to watch, not the ones you have to watch.
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced dad living in Brooklyn, trying to find his niche in the world of inventions and schemes, but they never seem to pan out. His ex-wife, Erica (Kim Raver) is hooked up with a successful bonds trader (William Ragsdale), and Larry’s son, Nick (Jake Cherry), has taken a liking to his mother’s new man, but he still really loves his father, even if he is flawed. Larry is about to be evicted, and is using every idea he can think of to save a buck here and there, and is ready to pack it up and moved to Queens. He goes to a One Stop Career Center, and they find his resume to be really chaotic. The worker, Debbie (Anne Meara) tells him that there is a job available at the Museum of Natural History, and that everyone else they have sent down there hasn’t worked out. Larry is desparate, and he goes to check it out. The job is for a night guard. It turns out that the three older guards. Cecil, Gus, and Reginald (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs) are being let go on early retirement due to lack of business. The museum curator, Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) is a stuffy stick in the mud who is afraid of change, and wants nothing out of order or out of the ordinary to happen in his workplace.
What Dr. McPhee does not know is that every night, at sundown, all the creatures and people in the museum come alive, due to a magical artifact that came to them in the 1950s along with the mummy of Pharoah Ahkmenrah, (Rami Melek). Cecil gives Larry a list of odd instructions, and tells him to do them as soon as the sun goes down, and to do them quickly. Larry soon learns why. After playing with the phone/PA system for about a half-hour, he dozes off, then wakes when falls out of the chair at the front desk. He goes to use the men’s room, and notices that skeleton of the tyrannosaurus that graces the atrium of the museum entrance is missing. This is the beginning of a life-changing event for Larry, and what happens over the next three days is one of the coolest adventures that anyone could ever have. He makes friends with people and creatures of all sizes and statures, and enemies as well. From Rexy, the tyrranosaurus that thinks he’s a dog, to the tiny Jedidiah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steven Coogan) from the Old West and Roman Empire dioramas to Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck). He even manages to anger Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), and several carnivorous lions. This all leads up to an attempt to foil the heist of the tablet of Ahkmenrah by some unexpected thieves. Larry finds the most unlikely allies when he and Nick enlists the help of the man who started all this, Pharoah Ahkmenrah. Larry also manages to impress a very pretty grad student, Rebecca, (Carla Gugino) who loves history and has been studying the life of Sacajawea as her main focus in her career.
This is a movie I never tire of, and never will. Whenever you can’t decide on what to watch, it never fails to entertain with its high energy fun and even some little bits of wisdom. Always a keeper, and magically done in the manner that only Chris Columbus can give us, as he did in the first two Harry Potter movies, it is no wonder I love it so much.
I give this film a Musing review of