Night at the Museum

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 02 April 2007

When good-hearted dreamer Larry Daley is hired as night watchman at the Museum of Natural History, he soon discovers that an ancient Egyptian tablet 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 breaking point. But with the help of President Teddy Roosevelt, Larry may just figure out a way to control the chaos and become a hero in his son's eyes...

Night at the Museum is one of those family movies that comes along every once in a while. It's a film that has something for everyone, ensuring that the whole family really will be able to sit together and be engrossed for the film's duration.

Ben Stiller plays Larry Daley, a man who wants to prove to his son that he can be a good father. But, he has a lot to live up to as his son's new Step-Dad is a squeaky clean man with a high paid job. With debts mounting, Larry temporarily ditches his dreams of making it big one day, with one of his crazy business ideas, and takes the only job he can get - night watchman at the Museum of Natural History. The job looks simple enough, until he discovers that once the visitors go home, and the sun goes down, the exhibits come to life. His job is to ensure that all the rooms are locked before sun rise and everything is back in its rightful place.

Stiller is perfect as Larry - getting the balance right to make you totally believe in his character. Robin Williams is, as ever, wonderful in the role of Teddy Roosevelt and only once hams his part up.

There are some great cameos here. There's Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson as the tiny diorama figures of Octavius the Roman and Jedediah the cowboy. Then there's Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs who are wonderful as the old night watchmen. In fact the only let down, for me, was Ricky Gervais. Yes, The Office was hilarious, but he really should move on. All we get out of him here is a slightly watered down version of David Brent.

But it is the small monkey that steals the show. There are some fantastic scenes between Stiller and the monkey which will have kids and adults laughing like hyenas. The monkey slapping scene has to be one of the funniest human/animal moments ever committed to film.

I do wish the studios would stop insisting on releasing what are essentially single disc DVDs across two discs and charging £25 for the privilege. There is no way you can tell me that all the material wouldn't have fitted onto a single disc.

Extras include audio commentary with director Shawn Levy (which is pretty entertaining - certainly worth a listen); and an audio commentary with the writers (don't expect to learn much here - it's mainly banter. Although it's quite funny in parts. I especially loved their attempt at the British accent and the Lenny Kravitz outburst). On disc two we get Deleted and Extended Scenes (16-and-a-half min featurette with optional commentary from the director); Bringing the Museum to Life (six min look at the effects); Blooper Reel (5-and-a-half mins of mistakes); Monkey Business (5 min look at working with a real monkey); Making of Night at the Museum (11 min featurette that goes behind the scenes); McFly Music Video; Theatrical Teaser; Theatrical Trailer; and Rexy (an interactive game where you have to place the bones in the right place on screen. Once finished it takes you to another screen and offers a left or right option to choose. I don't know if our disc was faulty but it didn't matter which we chose - or even if we didn't touch anything - it would still take us back to an earlier menu.

Interestingly enough, this disc also manages to squeeze five audio tracks onto the first disc - including 5.1, DTS, a narrator for the visually impaired, and the two previously mentioned audio commentaries.

The movie is a lot of laughs, and is certainly worth watching at least twice to get the subtle references before everything comes alive. This is certainly a film worth adding to your collection. The only let down was the price. If this has been knocked out on a single disc for £20 it would have easily scored at least an extra mark.

Nick Smithson

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