One of the eight million reasons my wife hates to watch movies with me is because I have a tendency to pick them apart. When people inexplicably make dumb decisions in films, I often cock my head and sport the same confused look my old dog Buddy often made. I have a hard time enjoying movies completely devoid of logic. I inherited this nit-picking trait from my father, and have passed it on to my son. Even at five-years-old, Mason questioned the multitude of logical gaps throughout Night at the Museum from beginning to end, just like his old man.
Ben Stiller is Larry Daley, a likable fellow who dreams big but produces little. Daleys inability to grow up and hold down a job has already cost him his marriage, custody of his son, and is about to cost him his apartment. When his ex-wife threatens to pull all visitation rights until his life settles down, Daley succumbs to her wishes and settles down with a job as the local history museums night watchman. Due to a steady decline in visitors, the museum is downsizing by replacing their three current night watchmen (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs) with one Daley. Daley soon notices, as Theodore Logan once noted, Strange things are afoot inside the museum. At night, because of a magical Egyptian tablet delivered over 50 years earlier, everything inside the museum comes to life. And presumably over the past 50 years, the security guards have told no one of this amazing feat, no member of the museums cleaning crew has ever stayed late, and most importantly, none of the exhibits have ever escaped the museum.
Night at the Museums draw is not its pencil-thin plot but rather its Jumanji-like special effects. Throughout the film youll see miniature cowboys fighting miniature Romans, a talking Easter Island head (who wants gum gum from dumb dumb) and a 30-foot-tall T. Rex who runs rampant throughout the museum all of which who destroy the museum on a nightly basis. No real explanation is given as to how things are restored to order before morning perhaps the former night watchmen were very talented (and perpetually busy) handymen.
By the end of the film, Daley has to patch things up with his estranged kid, take control of the museum, and deal with a few bad guys (who, if you cant figure out who they are, you didnt watch enough Scooby Doo as a child). Daleys nights inside the museum are exciting and filled with wonder and action, while his days are filled with a plodding story line used to try and tie those wonderful action-packed night scenes together.
Besides being dull, there are major portions of the film, however, that simply didnt make sense. Like Sacagawea, for example she appears in a museum exhibit with Lewis and Clark, behind soundproof glass. For 50 years, Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) has longed to talk to her, but alas, she cannot escape her display. The problem is, everybody else has no problem escaping theirs. Once the sun goes down, cavemen run amuck trying to start fires as Civil War soldiers fight one another and Attila the Hun and his posse chase, well, everybody. And yet, Sacagawea, one of the greatest adventurers of all time, cant figure out how to open a sliding glass case? Its like those army videogames, where your hero cant seem to step over a small rock or something. Its ridiculous. And as other characters continued to talk throughout the scene I began studying the display surely theres a way for her to get out of there! Cmon Lewis and Clark, figure something out!
Unfortunately thats just the tip of the iceberg. As the museum gets destroyed on a nightly basis its hard to continue watching the film without wondering who in the world is rebuilding the entire museum every day. And throughout 50 years of melees, no exhibit has ever been damaged? Its not that I enjoy picking apart movies, but when so many inconsistencies are hurled at you at once, its hard to enjoy anything else going on within the film. And when the five-year-old youre with starts asking questions you cant answer (like, why are the fake lions hungry?), you know the filmmakers have left too many stones unanswered.