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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Shawn Levy
Cast:
Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, Kim Raver
Writing Credits:
Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Milan Trenc (book)

Tagline:
Everything comes to life.

Synopsis:
Ben Stiller leads an all-star cast including Robin Williams and Dick Van Dyke in this hilarious blockbuster hit. When good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley (Stiller) is hired as night watchman at the Museum of Natural History, he soon discovers that an ancient curse brings all the exhibits to life after the sun sets. Suddenly, Larry finds himself face-to-face with a frisky T. Rex skeleton, tiny armies of Romans and cowboys and a mischievous monkey who taunts him to the breaking point. But with the help of President Teddy Roosevelt (Williams), Larry may just figure out a way to control the chaos and become a hero in his son's eyes. Boasting jaw-dropping special effects and laugh-out-loud moments, Night At The Museum is your ticket to nonstop fun!

Box Office:
Budget
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$42.212 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$247.718 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Cantonese
Korean
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/24/2007

One of the "Easter Basket Approved" Titles from Fox/MGM.

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Shawn Levy
• Audio Commentary with Writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon
• Trivia Track
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Night At The Museum [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 3, 2010)

Does it count as ironic that a Jewish actor has become the king of the Christmas blockbuster? Over two of the last three holiday seasons, Ben Stiller starred in that period’s biggest hit. First he made 2004’s Meet the Fockers, the year’s fourth highest grossing flick, and then he led Night at the Museum, 2006’s second top earning effort. Stiller took a break in 2005; his only work for the year came in his voice performance for the summer’s animated hit Madagascar.

Divorced dad Larry Daley (Stiller) finds it hard to get his act together and keep a job. He maintains many ambitions for himself but none of these pan out the way he’d like. If he can’t hold down steady work, it seems likely that he’ll lose his partial custody of son Nick (Jake Cherry). Desperate for employment, Larry latches onto what seems to be an easy gig: the night watchman post at New York’s Museum of Natural History. He learns that he’ll take over the job from retiring guards Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), Gus (Mickey Rooney) and Reginald (Bill Cobbs).

Ah, but all is not as simple as it seems. Though Cecil gives Larry a long list of specifications to follow each night, Larry doesn’t take this very seriously. He soon learns that he needs lots of help, as the inhabitants of the museum come to life every night. Among other problems, he undergoes attacks from a T-rex skeleton, deals with a mischievous monkey, and he tries to secure peace between two warring sets of tiny diorama figures. The flick follows all of Larry’s efforts in addition to other plot complications.

Right off the bat, I’ll look at the main flaws I found in Museum. For one, no one can call it a terribly original piece of work. The film owes a significant debt to 1995’s Jumanji - and not just because both feature Robin Williams. The two flicks feel a lot alike and follow similar comedic/action concepts with all the threats to their lead characters. No, I won’t call Museum a rip-off of Jumanji, but it’s a kissing cousin.

In the nerdy vein, I also want to gripe about the context of the museum itself. What kind of natural history museum is this, anyway? It scatters all sorts of historical genres without any logical framework at all. Why do we find a Civil War display in a natural history museum? Yeah, I know this takes matters too seriously for a light family comedy, but I disliked the lack of conceptual integrity; a movie shouldn’t sacrifice logic just to facilitate gags.

Indeed, Museum suffers from a lot of lapses in terms of rational material – more than usual even for this sort of movie. Throughout the film, the viewer seems likely to question lots of story points and character actions, and these can become distractions. Granted, one goes into a fantasy like this with a pretty open mind; it’s not like we can expect perfect sense from a flick about inanimate objects come to life. However, too many concerns with internal consistency appear, and these create issues.

Despite these complaints, I think Museum gives us an enjoyable experience. I usually could ignore the nagging concerns and just go with the flow. To be sure, the excellent cast help make matters work, especially in the supporting category. Museum features plenty of terrific performers both young and old. In the latter vein, our three outgoing guards are a hoot, with a special emphasis on Rooney. I never much cared for the guy, but his irrationally angry turn as Gus is a true delight. Van Dyke is also fun – especially when his character changes – and I very much like the quick cameo from Stiller’s real-life mom Anne Meara.

As for younger actors, Owen Wilson makes the most of his diorama cowboy. A gruff little character with a size complex, Wilson takes a potentially silly personality and invests him with all the necessary gumption and humor. Wilson usually does well, but I think he’s particularly terrific here.

Though Stiller doesn’t need to stretch his acting chops as Larry, he handles his responsibilities well. Larry is a character in the Greg Focker vein, so this isn’t a tough role. Nonetheless, Stiller milks his sequences for their appropriate comedic value, and he allows the audience an entry into the story. We have to dig into the outlandish tale from his viewpoint, and he does this well.

If we look at director Shawn Levy’s prior efforts, we don’t come away with a feeling of confidence. Levy directed catastrophes like the 2003 remake of Cheaper By the Dozen, and I expected little from him. While Museum doesn’t demonstrate a remarkable improvement in talent, at least Levy more than handles the material here. He balances the action with the comedy and only sporadically indulges in the anticipated schmaltzy lowest-common-denominator side. Levy handles the action with a mix of excitement and comedy; he’s much more successful with the movie’s tone than I’d expect.

At no point will I ever refer to Museum as a great film. However, it entertains on a consistent basis and never makes the viewer feel like a sap. This is lightweight material but it usually delights.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Night at the Museum appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good but not great presentation.

Colors became a strength. The movie boasted a warm, semi-golden tone much of the time, and all the hues looked rich and dynamic. The colors were excellent from start to finish and really looked great. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while low-light segments showed good delineation and visibility.

Sharpness was the image’s inconsistent area. While most of the film exhibited solid definition, wide shots could come across as a bit soft. This mostly affected effects elements, but a few other scenes suffered from tentative delineation. Nonetheless, the majority of the movie offered good clarity. I witnessed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes were absent. Source flaws also failed to occur. In the end, the softness made this a “B” presentation that bordered on “B-“.

Museum boasted solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. The many action sequences allowed for a wide variety of elements to swarm around the viewer. Critters ran about the room, while various bits like arrows zoomed across the spectrum. The tracks melded these components in a natural, dynamic manner that helped the movie come alive. Look to Larry’s first night in the museum for a great audio demo sequence, though plenty of other strong sequences emerged.

Audio quality always seemed satisfying. Speech appeared concise and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Effects came across as accurate and lively. They featured good range and heft, as did the score. I really liked the sound of the music, as that side of things worked especially well. The score was quite vivid throughout the flick. I found a lot to like via these strong soundtracks.

Only a few extras appear. We find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Shawn Levy, as he offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Levy discusses the project’s origins and development, the opening credits, cast and performances, sets and locations, story, pacing and cuts, effects and action, music, and a mix of other subjects.

Levy may be a fairly pedestrian director, but he offers a terrific little commentary here, just as he did for 2003’s Cheaper By the Dozen. He maintains an enthusiasm for the process and throws out plenty of good details. He even lets us know what story flaws he sees along the way, so he’s not shy about relating imperfections. Levy presents a nice view of his movie in this fun, informative chat.

For the second commentary, we hear from writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. They sit together for another running, screen-specific chat. The writers talk about their adaptation of the very short source book, how this flick dovetailed with their Reno 911! Miami project, cut scenes, influences from real museums, and story ideas.

If you expect a lot of facts about the production, you’ll come away from this chat disappointed. The writers really don’t tell us a whole lot about their work or the production. I’m not wild about that fact; given the brevity of the original Museum book, I think they could have given us lots of info about their ideas and inspirations.

Nonetheless, I won’t complain too much simply because Garant and Lennon make this such a darned entertaining chat. They throw out lots of funny asides and follow a series of amusing threads. We get riffs on cannibals, chimneysweeps, and plenty of other topics that make this a consistently laugh-filled track. Although I wish it contained more data about the film, it’s too much fun for me to criticize heavily.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray, the disc includes a Trivia Track. This features notes about cast and crew as well as historical elements presented in the film. It’s nothing earth-shaking – and occasional mistakes appear – but it adds some interesting tidbits.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get some ads under “Fox on Blu-ray”. That area includes promos for Eragon, Fantastic Four, Ice Age – The Meltdown,The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Night at the Museum wins no points for originality or brilliance. However, it amuses on a consistent basis and gives us a lively piece of entertainment. The Blu-ray offers erratic but good picture, very nice audio and a few decent extras. Nothing about this release excels, but it satisfies, and the movie remains enjoyable.

To rate this film visit the original review of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main