Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Night at the Museum: Best Product Placement Ever?

Rating: 3.5 Gilberts Law Outlines out of 5

I wasn't going to see this movie. Until about a month ago, I hadn't seen the first one either. And then, a series of event unfolded that made it abundantly clear that I should at least see this movie at a matinee ($4 makes even possibly sucky movies worth seeing on the big screen).

First, I ended up in D.C. the weekend that this premiered at the Air and Space museum. I was enjoying margaritas and fajitas at the time of the premiere, but I was around. Second, I saw this Shack Talk episode:

If you haven't seen any of these, well, I am sorry you live such a humorless life. Thirdmost, they have been playing Night At the Museum Numero Uno on FX day in and day out.

And finally, I discovered I can go to the movies for $4 on Sunday morning!!!

So this past Sunday I hunkered down in my seat with my Sour Patch Watermelon gummies and a Coke Zero to watch what may have been the best advertising aimed at children ever. Not only does this movie take place at the Natural History Museum this time, it moves to DC where the Mall and most of the 19 museums of the Smithsonian make an appearance. (Sidenote-there is a scene outside the White House…)

This is a movie that I expect most people will enjoy, but most will enjoy more if they have seen the first. It picks up a few years after the last one ended with Larry (Ben Stiller) owning his own emerging invention empire that he hawks through infomercials (RIP Billy Mays) with help from George Foreman. He still visits the museum he used to protect every night, but those visits are becoming less frequent and interrupted by his crackberry. He shows up one night to find the displays being boxed up to be replaced with interactive holograms, Will.i.am on CNN style. As per plan, monkey business ensues and the tablet that makes them alive at night travels with them to DC to be stored in the National Archives in the maze under the Smithsonian. Hank Azaria, playing Kahmunrah, Ahkmenrah's older and far eviler brother, is claiming the tablet in order to open his gate to the underworld and take over the world. The NYC crew, while holding them back, gets Larry on the horn and he heads down to help. As can be assumed, chaos ensues and Larry teams up with Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), DC museum displays, including a trio of cupids played by the Jo Bros and the rest of the NYC team, and as is the result of most movies, there is a very happy ending that makes you say awwwwwww.

I see this movie spurring a rush by the museums of America cashing in on the movies theme. I have seen it already seen it at the Smithsonian itself; there is some sort of map to find Night at the Museum spots. I do see them needing to employ extra security, though, to prevent people from trying to climb on the displays and access the basement levels.

We can only assume that this movie will become a series. But that is OK with me. I enjoy ensemble casts in movies, especially by ensembles that work together on project after project made up by talented individuals that only get better when grouped. They tend to make the best films with no focus on just one character's evolving plot, but how these characters interplay with each other. Further, this may have been a kid's movie, but in the grand tradition of goods kid's movies, there is plenty of adult humor laced in.

In the end, if you were to ask me if you should see this move I would answer, "It depends." If you have seen the first one and are not planning on spending more than $7 for a ticket, I'd say sure. Otherwise, wait until FX starts playing it on loop before the third one comes out.

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