Night at the Museum: Where History Comes Alive

Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, left, and Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum.”(Doane Gregory/20th Century Fox)

When a new security guard takes the job at the American Museum of Natural History, he is in for a surprise in Night at the Museum.

“Some men are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them.” — President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

Larry Daley’s life is falling apart. He can’t keep a job and fears that his10-year-old son, Nick (Jake Cherry), will turn against him. Despite the unstable work history, Cecil Fredericks (Dick Van Dyke) hires Larry anyway. The Museum is losing money and there’s only enough for one guard, not three. Cecil, Gus (Mickey Rooney), and Reginald (Bill Cobbs) are on their way out the door and into retirement. Or so we think. It turns out that they have an evil plot of their own as we soon learn. What Larry doesn’t know is that history comes alive every night. It comes alive so much that he ends up getting fired a few times by Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais). Larry has to beg his way back into the museum’s service but it’s the last firing that sees Larry immediately hired back.

Every night since the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) arrived in 1952, the museum has come alive at night. If Larry doesn’t follow instructions, chaos will ensue. I mean, it does anyway but it’s expected for a comedy. It takes President Roosevelt (Robin Williams) to more or less mentor Larry in this new position. He’s always delivering some sort of pep talk to stop Larry from quitting. All Larry wants to do is have Nick be proud of them. Easier said than done when Nick witnesses Dr. McPhee firing Larry but he comes around.

I try to watch this film every few years. No matter how many times I do, I’ll always forget that Paul Rudd is the Batman of bond traders. The Marvel superhero isn’t in the film long enough but makes the best of his small screen time. But when it comes to the cast, they don’t come together without Ben Stiller’s presence. Robin Williams is fantastic as usual but you also have a trio of Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs!

Listen, this is a fantasy adventure where history comes alive at night. Obviously, you need to suspend belief of what’s happening in front of your eyes. At the end of the day, I’m having fun while watching the film and this is what counts. Plus, it made over a half-billion dollars worldwide so it definitely appealed to audiences. I come from the world of comedy so if a comedy is making me laugh, it is doing the job correctly! Sure, the slapstick gets over the time at times (Larry and Dexter slapping each other, for example) but there’s so much entertainment within the film.

I made my first trip to the American Museum of Natural History in August 2015 because of this film. My honest opinion is that the film doesn’t do the museum justice. They recreated the museum on a soundstage in British Columbia but my G-d, the museum is huge! It did surprise me that the exhibits featured in the film aren’t necessarily on display at the actual museum. From my 2015 trip, I do remember a lot of dinosaur skeletons and a Theodore Roosevelt presence. If you’re going to the museum, plan to spend a few hours there!

Fifteen years after its release, Night at the Museum is still a fun time.

DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy
SCREENWRITERS: Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon
CAST: Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, and Robin Williams

Twentieth Century-Fox released Night at the Museum in theaters on December 22, 2006.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.