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A spy sneaks in and spends an early NIGHT IN A MUSEUM!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a review of the big family friendly extravaganza starring Ben Stiller called NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. This review is a bit weird. Some people will call it a plant because it is very positive. Some will call it a fake, because at times it is very vague. Both could be right, but I get a vibe off of the reviewer that is a little odd. Not necessarily in a bad way, but what he chooses to focus on is a little weird, so that may explain the overall tone of the review. I, for one, hope he's right on. I'd love for this flick to be a whole lot of fun, but to be perfectly honest... Shawn PINK PANTHER and CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN Levy at the helm doesn't give me much confidence. Enjoy the review!!!

My name is XP-Dracon, and I hail from the days when Cinescape magazine actually had a movie review section, and was actually a popular magazine. I once gave them a "Cast Away" first-screening 'overview,' and they went ape-shit for it. Those days have passed, and now I return to bring you an 'overview' of the first screening ever for the upcoming holiday family film, "A Night at the Museum,' directed by Shawn Levy ("The Pink Panther") and starring Ben Stiller.

First off, it is very hard to have any complaints about a movie that, when upon exiting, I felt was a very solid family adventure. Much like "Jumanji," "The Santa Clause" and "The Indian in the Cupboard" in heart, "A Night at the Museum" brings to life many fantasies that we as children had about things in the museum coming to life.

Ben Stiller initially plays Ben Stiller, which was okay because he brings a certain comedic levity to the film, whereas if a more serious actor was to play the main character, the film would have felt a little too heavy-handed with the family drama. Ben Stiller is a divorced father who can't seem to handle keeping a job or bringing to life his dreams and innovations for businesses. He lands a job in the Natural Museum of HIstory in New York, where he is warned by the three old night security guards to "not letting anything in or out." Everyone who has seen the preview knows what happens, so I won't waste time with the details. I will just say what I felt about the movie.

Ben Stiller was fine, but the supporting ensemble cast was quite impressive. My favorites were Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan, as warring miniatures in charge of the western frontier miniature display and the Roman miniature display, respectively. Owen Wilson, when taken in doses, can be quite hilarious and charming, but at times may get old. In this movie, his presence is most welcome. Carla Gugino, as a museum tour guide, is quite good-looking as ever. My favorite character in the film was definitely Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt. I had done studies on Teddy in the past and had seen him portrayed by other actors (most notably Tom Berenger in "The Rough Riders"), and Williams nails it, as far as I'm concerned. Robin Williams is also a much-welcomed supporting member to the already great cast, and leaves you wanting more. Even after his many flops that he has had since his string of hits in the early and mid 90s, I'm beginning to feel another comeback for Robin. It just feels like it's that time.

Now, even with the obvious drawbacks of screenings (scratchy soundtrack, temp music, unfinished visual effects), the film was still edited very solid, and had a great flow that was consistent and entertaining after the first 15 minutes of introduction. I have seen many films in screenings in the past 11 years, and this, as well as "Cast Away" (which was actually shorter in the screening than was released in the theatre) have been the most solidly edited films of the bunch. I felt that the film only needed maybe a couple minutes trimmed down (some scenes of dialoge went a little long, mostly because of Stiller's truncated, often jumbly style of line delivery as is common in nearly all of his roles).

My only little problem I have isn't necessarily with the film, but with the storytelling style that has become popular in Hollywood lately - that is having children being brought up in broken homes. To me, it's a very sad thing when it has become so apparent that parents cannot handle keeping families together as well as families once used to be able to (the divorce rate in America far exceeds that of the marriage rate), and now Hollywood has to cater to that stigma. Ben Stiller is a divorced dad who has to watch his son be led away by his ex's 'new man.' I just have a hard time watching that kind of thing these days, and wish for the day when parents used to stay together. Funny, the same situation occurred in "The Santa Clause," and the parents were real jerks in "Jumanji." Coincidence?

A few great comedic moments abound in this film, but the real heart lies in the stimulation of the imagination, and the fantasies of our childhood. The movie will be a marvel for children to watch come Christmas time, and the skeleton T-Rex is very nice - like a big dog who wants you to throw a stick, but in this case, a bone for him to catch.

Cavemen, exploreres, Native Americans, African wildlife, miniature cowboys, Romans and Chinamen workers, talking Easter Island statues, Egyptian mummy, monkeys, pilgrims, knights and Theodore Roosevelt - a very fun family film that, much like the aforementioned films of previous holiday seasons, can be enjoyed by anyone of any age.

( * * * out of * * * * )

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 22, 2006, 4:56 a.m. CST

    I think I know what is wierd about this reviewer ...

    by Rearden

    ... He's probably 17 years old. Sounds kinda like it. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. (though I suppose he would have had to have been 11 when he reviewed Cast Away ... so who knows)

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 5:45 a.m. CST


    by KarmicRelief

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 5:49 a.m. CST

    not really much of a review....

    by misnomer

    I'm pretty optimistic about this- I don't think it'll be great, but am sure it'll be fairly solid or at least on par with the likes of things like meet the fockers,along came polly, 50 first dates- that blend concepts with gentle'll be worth a rental I'm sure.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 6:28 a.m. CST

    Divorce stigma? No.

    by half vader

    It's called lazy scriptwriting. Writing dialogue for two parents is hard work, especially when they have to sound reasonably intelligent, have distinct personalities & opposing points of view, and may not even be the main characters in the film. Pfah! Who can be bothered? Especially with cartoons! Just have one cliched parental figure, give 'em a monologue, the kids a bit of half-baked angst, and away you go!

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 6:43 a.m. CST


    by Lost Prophet

    jumanji (outside of the impressive special effects) was absolute shite. Also, the fact that he cites that writing gig in his CV suggests that he now works for a marketing department somewhere. At least he didn't describe it as "Showcasing Steve Coogan's comedic genius" or some other blatant pr talk like that. He is clearly a highly evolved plant- Venus Fly Trap?

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Ben Stillborn and Oatmeal Wilson!

    by tompbeast

    Again! this looks ok cept for that pair of tits! why doesn't Stiller get fat and then they can do Laurel and Hardy the early years or drag up and do Cagney and Lacy.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 7:21 a.m. CST

    the divorce rate far exceeds that of the marriage rate'

    by MKiro is that possible? Anyway this was less a movie review and more a subjective comment on the decline in contemporary family values. Don't let this guy near 'Kramer v Kramer'!!!

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 7:43 a.m. CST

    that was a poor review

    by tripp5

    and who cares about his lil observances about what if the kid's parents are divorced...and HOW is that used a storytelling device? does this reviewer know what he's even talking about? i'd call PLANT but he doesnt use the phrase "Da Bomb," as in "Robin Williams' portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt was Da Bomb"

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 7:55 a.m. CST

    think that was a very well written

    by KnightEternal

    and informative excuse me while I pour syrup into the toaster

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 8:15 a.m. CST


    by Boba Fat

    Strange indeed, reads like a review from someone getting off on writing a review.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Scratchy soundtrack?

    by Zarles

    WTF? What, did they lay in the music from old reel-to-reel machines? Did Gabby Hayes produce this movie? This reads like it was written by some intern on his lunch break. In fact, I bet if I poured water all over this "review", it would push out some pretty flowers for me to pick in a few weeks. PLANT.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Broken families produce whiny kids who plant reviews

    by Lance Rock

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 8:46 a.m. CST

    This review is fine, plant or not..

    by Cotton McKnight

    because nobody knows anything about this project really. So getting the word out there is cool. If this was 2 weeks before its release though, I would say "shame on you, AICN!". As for the movie, it looks pretty entertaining. I read in EW that the director really had to reign in Stiller, because he always does dark comedy.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Not only a plant, but a family values shill too.

    by Nate Champion

    "Stay together for the sake of the children!!!" I'm used to AICN insulting my intelligence with the bullshit reviews that get posted here, but now they've offended me morally too. This kind of crap should be saved for us morons in the talkbacks and kept out of the reviews.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 9 a.m. CST

    TOO SOON !!!

    by lawlz

    had to be said.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 9:45 a.m. CST

    way off topic but

    by ectocriminal

    the aicn reviewer/personality known as mirajef is boxing uwe boll in vancouver.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 9:57 a.m. CST

    PLANT...AND a shitty review to boot

    by Dannychico

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 10:36 a.m. CST


    by BitterMan23

    I would fork over my entire savings to go see that.... even if i had savings. It'll be the greatest event in filmmaking history.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 11:02 a.m. CST

    this wasn't a plant

    by Everett Robert

    this was a FREAKING SALAD! I'm NEVER one to accuse someone of being a plant but dang, this is just weird. BIZARO or something Why all the refrences to Cast Away...oh and regarding putting Jumanji and the Santa Clause with the BRILLENT Indian in the Cupboard I just don't get it, it's blashmphy, but strange. I guess I'm like Quint, there's just SOMETHING about this review but it just doesn't sit right

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Watch the Trailer

    by Abin Sur

    There is not ONE thing in this "review" that you couldn't have seen from the trailer, which I just saw over the weekend on HDNet's "Nothing but Trailers." The trailer DID look entertaining, but I definitely could have written the SAME review (without the social commentary) after watching it.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 11:36 a.m. CST

    i'm not really a fan of stiller

    by capitol f

    or wilson of that matter (except in wes anderson movies) but this has ricky gervais in it so i'll prob. check it out, on netflix of course.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Family Film

    by Atomica

    It's quite nice to be able to take your family to a Film that everyone can enjoy. In the 80s and even early to mid 90s Family Films flourished and prospered. These days outside of animated features, the genre is all but dead. I like many filmgoers will take my Kids and likely will have a great time. We NEED more Movies like this. Movies like: The Goonies, ET, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Neverending Story, Jumanji, Jurassic Park, Men in Black etc. You don't see as many movies like these that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Pathetic really.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 12:20 p.m. CST

    the only reason robin williams is on this...

    by jig98

    is because shawn levy didn't want to tell him "we are ripping off 5 of your old classics." pink panther was a hysterical passable piece of work earlier this year and this seems like another one of those traditional "could go either way" type movies. will be a sweet video game though.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 2:55 p.m. CST

    Will He Improv His Scenes 20 Different Ways Only

    by flamingrunt

    to end up with a joke that is still not as funny as something that could have been created by months of focussed scriptwriting? Will Ferrell also seems to love this sort of sloppy movie making.

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 3:14 p.m. CST

    Reason for Divorced Dads in films...

    by theBigE because that's what dads do when they get their kids for the weekend from the ex-wife: they take them to movies. I've got 2 stepsons, and when they visit their biological dad, that's their main pasttime - see all of the family friendly films that they can. They also get lots more gifts and toys that way - yay, 2 Christmases!!!

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 4:45 p.m. CST

    That divorce "remark" is just bizarre.

    by ODM

  • Aug. 22, 2006, 6:41 p.m. CST

    NATM looks like this year's FLUBBER.

    by Orbots Commander

    Eh, could be worse I guess. The best one can hope for is that it has the wimsy and light-hearted fun of the live action Disney flicks from 1950's and '60's like the HERBIE movies, BEDNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS, etc.

  • Aug. 23, 2006, 12:48 a.m. CST

    Stiller bashers need to watch his Extras episode

    by The Wrong Guy

    Priceless. BEN: "Do you know who I am?" ANDY: "It's either Starsky or Hutch... I can never remember." BEN: "Was that supposed to be funny?" ANDY: "I dunno. You tell me. You were in it."

  • Aug. 23, 2006, 5:54 a.m. CST

    kuldan- you still sound like a plant

    by Lost Prophet

    defending yourself in a TB- flagrant jungle tactics.

  • Aug. 23, 2006, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Marriage and Divorce Rates?

    by sheltrk

    I'm not sure where the reviewer got his information about marriage and divorce rates in the US, but it sounds like urban legend fodder to me. In less than one minute of web searching, I found out that there is a federal agency which tracks marriage and divorce rates: the National Center for Health Statistics, housed within the CDC--Centers for Disease Control and prevention. According to official NCHS figures, there were ~2,279,000 marriages in 2004. The marriage rate was was 7.8 per 1000 people, while the divorce rate was only 3.7 per 1000. From 2002-2004, those rates have remained about the same. Roughly twice as many people are getting married as getting divorced in this country. If you want details, check out: I'm not sure where all the cynicism about marriage is coming from in pop culture. Maybe it's that we so often hear so much about ugly Hollywood divorces in the media, but we never hear about all the couples remain happily married for the rest of their lives. Good news about lasting marriage is not news, I suppose. About the movie: Divorced dad or not, it looks like an enjoyable family holiday movie to me. But then again, I really like Ben Stiller's and Owen Wilson's respective movies, and my whole family recently laughed all the way through Robin William's "RV", so what do I know?

  • Aug. 23, 2006, 10:41 a.m. CST

    This is either the most ridiculous plant ever or...

    by minderbinder

    ...this reviewer just has no taste whatsoever. The description makes it sound horrible, yet he liked it? Tons of content that has nothing to do with the movie, like Robin Williams being due for a comeback??? Sorry, kuldan, it sounds like you either have the studio up your ass or you're just on crack.

  • Aug. 23, 2006, 6:42 p.m. CST

    More Christian Coallition Movie reviewer...

    by Arche Logos

    than a plant really. Or is he working for that new fundemental Christian marketing companies that was set up to push Mel's "Passion"? Who knows. I know I am looking forward to getting baked and watching this keilidescope of interesting crazy (including Robin's drunk ass) shit. Divorced dad or not. Can I get an amen?

  • Aug. 24, 2006, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Why I think it's not a plant?

    by Lenny Nero

    He mentioned the film "Indian in the Cupboard." Nobody remembers that shit. Seriously.

  • Dec. 18, 2006, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Bollocks review.

    by scrumdiddly

    Bull testicles, I say.