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Movie Review

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian a.k.a. “Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian,” “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian—The IMAX Experience,” “Natt på museet 2,” “Una noche en el museo 2,” “Ночь в музее 2,” “La nuit au musée 2,” “Mia nyhta sto mouseio 2,” “Nachts im Museum 2,” “Night Museum 2,” “Uma Noite no Museu 2,” “Una notte al museo 2—Fuga dagli Smithsonian”

MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and brief language.

Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Kids Family Fantasy Action Comedy Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
May 22, 2009 (wide—4,000 theaters)
DVD: December 1, 2009
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

about Egypt

Does the Bible agree with the comment made in this movie that “the key to happiness is doing what you love with those you love”?

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Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Amy Adams (Amelia Earhart), Robin Williams, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Hank Azaria, Ed Helms, Thomas Lennon, Christopher Guest, Dick Van Dyke, Clint Howard, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Eugene Levy, Mickey Rooney, more »
Director: Shawn Levy
Producer: 21 Laps Entertainment, 1492 Pictures, more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“When the lights go off the battle is on.”

Prequel: Night at the Museum (2006)
Sequel: “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (2014)

Museums. They are either the most boring places on Earth or they are the most fascinating. For most kids, though, they are places of wonder and amazement, where legends come to life and extraordinary things can be seen and marveled at. Combine that wonder with the enchantment and adventure of a fairy tale and you get the first “Night at the Museum.”

The second film, “Battle of the Smithsonian,” follows some years after the first one left off. Our hero, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), is now a successful inventor and owner of Daley Devices. He is still a single father and struggles to find time to spend with his son. When he visits his old workplace, the Natural History Museum, he finds that it is being closed for renovation, and many of his old friends, including Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), et al, are being moved to the Smithsonian in Washington. Others, such as Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), the Tyrannosaurus skeleton and the Egyptian tablet that brings them all to life at night, are staying behind.

Then, shortly thereafter, Larry gets an emergency phone call from Jedediah, saying that Dexter the monkey has stolen the Egyptian tablet and that they are being attacked by an angry Pharaoh in the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian. Concerned for his friends' safety and with the purpose of retrieving the tablet, Larry travels to the Smithsonian and, with the help of his son, breaks into the Federal Archives.

Once there, he discovers that the evil Pharaoh is, in fact, one Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), who is intent on using the tablet to unleash his armies from the Underworld and take over Earth. But the combination to unlock the tablet’s potential power has been changed and Kahmunrah forces our hero to find the new combination by trapping Jedediah in an hourglass. With the help of new friends Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and General George Custer (Bill Hader), Larry must find the combination to save his friends, and still find a way to stop Kahmunrah and save the world.

There is a wealth of extremely positive messages that families can glean from this film. The overall lesson that Larry learns is that we cannot truly enjoy our lives or our jobs if we are not doing something that makes us happy. Larry had gotten so involved with his work that he had forgotten how to have fun, which is ultimately shown to be a poor work ethic. The film urges a balance between liking what we do and doing it well. It also encourages us not to become so lost our work that we miss important life opportunities (at one point, Larry is so busy text-messaging that he loses a chance to hear good advice).

Elsewhere, when Custer laments that he will always be known for his great failure, Larry encourages him that his past is in the past and that he now has a second chance to start again. History, in general, is seen as something to be remembered, learned from, respected, and even enjoyed. Courage is lauded, and friends constantly put themselves in harms way for others. Jedediah and Octavius, in particular, share a strong bond in which they look out for each other and work together in the face of literally massive odds. The Lincoln Memorial statue quotes Matthew 12:25 (“a house divided cannot stand”), providing Larry with inspiration at a critical moment.

In spite of these positive messages, there are smatterings of negative content that families will want to be aware of. Specifically, the two main action sets are a fast-paced plane ride pursuit through the Smithsonian and the actual battle with Kahmunrah’s army. Both of these scenes contain moderate peril, but no one is actually hurt.

Another scene of concern has a giant, slimy octopus tossing Larry and a few others around the room with his tentacles (he turns out to be friendly). The falcon-headed army from the Underworld is also mildly frightening. In a visual reference to the film “300,” Jedediah and Octavius slash at opponents' feet. A major character falls through the door into the Underworld and disintegrates rapidly, but not graphically. Slapstick comedy abounds, as well.

Language includes 3 or 4 misuses of God’s name and several mild, but colorful, insults. Amelia scolds Larry for not being able to keep his “cheaters off her chassis.” The muscular statue of the Thinker poses, trying to impress a nearby Greek sculpture (we only see her back). Jedediah mentions “getting to second base” after a character shares a kiss with another. Larry also steals a kiss from a nurse, when he is trapped in a classic World War 2 photo.

Spiritually, there are little, if any, overt references. The most clear reference is the tablet that brings the museum to life and the door to the Underworld that it opens. Also, there is the fact that Larry essentially steals a security guard’s uniform and involves his son in breaking any number of laws to enter the Archives. These are unfortunate factors that mar an otherwise wholesome film.

In general, though, “Battle of the Smithsonian” is a fun, exciting ride with marvelous special effects, important life lessons, and plenty of laughs to go around. Families who decide to visit this Museum will hopefully leave, not only entertained, but with kids inspired to look up the real life characters of Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein or Teddy Roosevelt and with a greater appreciation for the history and legacy they leave behind.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild—OMG (3), Oh G*d (2), damn (2) / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie was very well done. There were two things that were offensive. As one person commented, one of the main characters, Ameila, did say the “D” word and God’s name was taken in vain. Other than those two things this movie was as clean as a PG movie can get nowadays. There was nothing unbiblical about this film. A lot of humorous moments too. The movie had a positive message about doing what you love and to do it for the right reasons. Good job Hollywood!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alex, age 19 (USA)
Positive—My friends took me to see this movie for my 19th birthday. I hadn’t seen the first one, but loved this one. It’s just a funny, entertaining light-hearted film. I went with three of my guy friends, and we all really enjoyed it. There are some quotable parts that we especially liked. All in all, it is definitely a fun family film—not a masterpiece, but good clean fun. Also, if you have been to any of the Smithsonians or Washington D.C. in general it is fun to recognize some of the locations. They especially show a lot of the Air and Space museum.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Courtney, age 19 (USA)
Positive—My husband’s son (age 14) and I saw this movie and really enjoyed it. We were dubious, given it is a sequel, but thought the movie was engaging and funny. We found no significant moral problems with the story line or content. The story line is based on a mythic power to bring things back to life, but it’s much more fanciful than anything else.

There is no drug use, no profanity, no immoral sexuality. Some scenes at the end may be a little scary for very young children and do revisit the idea of an afterlife in a pagan way. My biggest grievance with the movie is when the Roosevelt character claims it is sometimes better to lie than tell the truth that might be hurtful. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. The lead character is divorced, but is actively involved in his son’s life. In the end, the movie reinforces the ideas of friendship, self sacrifice and doing work that you enjoy over making money.

We have been to Washington DC and the Smithsonian, so having been there to help make connections makes the movie more fun. There are a lot of cultural and historical references that can even make the movie somewhat educational. We laughed often and thought it was a good use of our time and money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—J. Sargent, age 35 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed the movie though I will agree that it dragged on at times. I don’t know what it is with sequels, but they seem very repetitive. I suppose it is an attempt to recapture similar laughs from the old movie. This movie has the monkey slapping Larry in the face again, but the twist is that there are two monkeys this time. and they dragged the gag out even longer. This happens a lot. My 8, 12, and 14 year olds loved it. I judge this by how much they mimic these gags on the way home in the car.

I can’t say this would have been a movie God would have gone to. They did swear, though I will admit the swear words were minor in comparison. They did use the word God though not in a hateful way. As elluded to, while Larry was hugging and kissing Emelia, he had Jedediah in his pocket. So, of course, he was pressed up against Emelia’s breast. After the kiss he stated that he thought he got to second base, which is a reference to petting. Only my 12 and 14 year olds got that. I suppose it depends how much you personally will allow. WWJD.

Some parts were scary and I had to glance over to my 8 year old to see how he was handling it. He was fine. I won’t purchase the movie as a DVD because of the swear words and sexual reference, but I’m not worried about our seeing it in the theatre. This was a fun movie that I think anyone would enjoy, but I personally liked the first one better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Chris Ransom, age 43 (USA)
Positive—My wife and I came back from watching an entirely enjoyable (and funny) movie. We both commented that it was one we will be looking for when it comes out on DVD. Having seen the first one, both of us had a certain viewpoint in mind when we saw this one. Neither of us were disappointed. The action was fast, in some spots furious, but the movie lived up to the expectations that we both had.

As has already been pointed out, there were a few profanities (Amelia Earhart), with some violence (no blood at all, no dead bodies) with much humor. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—David, age 58 (USA)
Positive—Hollywood loves to ruin a perfectly good movie with a bit of provanity or scenes that just don’t need to be there… But I have to say I loved this movie… my 3 kids age 12, 6 and 4 all enjoyed it. Its graphics were good, as well as the story line and they truly had a good time. Its a better movie then most of what is out there…and if they want to make a hero out of a security Guard rather than superman ( cause they couldn’t watch some parts of the movie) then so be it… I hope they come out with great toys It’s a good movie; I would recommend it for all ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sherrie, age 32 (Canada)
Positive—My husband and I enjoyed “Night at the Museum” 2; overall, clean, funny and entertaining. We thought it was a good sequel to “Night at the Museum.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sylvia, age 25 (USA)
Positive—I went to this movie with my huband and our 13 year old foster daughter. we all loved it. A very funny film. The only words that I didn’t think were necesarry were: “oh G*d-oh G*d” and “d*mn.” I kept waiting and watching for the refrences to evolution… but I was pleasently suprised that I didn’t detect any! Overall, I thought it was time and money well spent. I will recomend this film to all both young and old.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Anne, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I am a Christian, and I can handle other swear words, but not gd and jc. And most movies we watch are great and those very few words ruin the whole great movie. Like “I, Robot” was great, but that one word they just had to add in there. I am a mother, and I’m young still, and I don’t understand why they put those two words in movies. It’s not like people won’t watch them by them not using them. But people like me and many others won’t watch them because of those words and then they say how bad the movies was when they would have gave a great review.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Windy, age 31 (USA)
Positive—…Normally movies go downhill when they start making part’s two, three, four, and so on. However, this was not the case here. This movie picks up at a logical place, and proceeds forward, leaving no gaps.

I think I remember hearing one swear word, but other then that, I did not find anything negative about the movie at all. From a Biblical, standpoint, the only thing one could find offensive is that Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), and Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) still a few kisses, while not married. And there is the issue of why Larry Daley is not with his wife, or is not trying to correct this problem. In the movie he is a single father, doing his best to raise his son alone. I always tend to think that Hollywood glamorizes single parenthood, and gives the illusion that divorce and single parenting is fine, and that it is perfectly normal. However, in this movie we find that these issues, although an underlying issue, is not glamorized at all. In fact, if anything, it tends to show a little of the hardship involved. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Evangelist Paul Dodson, age 50 (USA)
Positive—We loved the first “Night at the Museum” movie! This movie was not quite as good, but we still enjoyed it! Cleaner than most, with a lot of good humor and creative characters! I’d recommend it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sylvia, age 26 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—My family and I attended this film today. We have two 10 year old boys. One liked it better than the first movie, the other didn’t. Both my husband and I fell asleep during parts of the movie BUT that could’ve been from fatigue, rather than boredom. I cannot talk about what I missed, obviously, but what we saw of the movie was OK. There were some cute parts. The main character seems to “have it all” but isn’t happy because he’s not doing something he loves. This is resolved in a good way in the movie. I mainly wanted to alert families to certain words included in the movie. “Damn-it” by the actress playing Amelia Earhart, several misuses of God’s name (Oh My God, Oh God…), and “That sucks” exclaimed from some teenagers. It’s too bad these had to be used. Overall, we wish we’d waited until the movie was at our local $1 theater.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Melinda, age 43 (USA)
Neutral—We liked the first one better. This one was slow. There was too much kissing for my boys. I did not like how they were using the Lord’s name and my kids really noticed this too. It had so much potential, but we felt let down. Save your money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jennifer, age 39 (USA)
Neutral—We saw this movie because my 5 year old daughter enjoyed the first one and I can say we did too—we even bought the dvd even after we saw it in the theater. I can’t say the same for Battle of the Smithsonian. The movie was rushed that the sequence of events have been mixed up altogether that it felt dragging at some point. There were times when they’re overdoing what’s supposed to be a funny scene like Kahmunrah threatening Larry to give him the tablet, don’t cross the line and keep quiet—the conversation dragged on and on and on which I think missed the punch line. Robin Williams would always say something unbiblical like in the first movie about Larry and Dexter, “who’s evolved between you.” At the start of the movie he said something similar. We also felt most of the main characters from the first movie was missing in action. My 5 year old daughter is very keen on simple things, she told me, “dad, the beginning was funny, but the rest was not.” I agree that Amy Adams sort of made a mockery of herself by doing Amelia Earhart’s part not that she’s insignificant, but because the role wasn’t that challenging.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like this movie and make it work. The effects were well done, but the I had problems with the script, plot and sequence of events. I think they missed the mark on the second installment, they had all the right ingredients just like the first—they just didn’t cook it right. I say wait for it to come out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Tades, age 41 (USA)
Neutral—“Night at the Museum:Battle of the Smithsonian” was as good as its predecessor with the return of Larry Daley and his friends from the National Museum of Natural History. During Larry’s absence, the museum has decided to upgrade the museum with holograms of the historical figures and downsize by sending our beloved characters to the Smithsonian museum. While such favorites as Rexy, Easter Island Head, Ahkmanrah, and Theodore Roosevelt are left behind, Larry embarks to the Smithsonian when he receives a desperate call for help from Jedidiah that the Smithsonian is coming to life (Dexter swiped the tablet from the Natural Museum) and that Ahkmanrah’s evil brother Kahmenrah has taken over the museum! Larry quickly reassumes his position as the temporary night guard for the Smithsonian and prepares himself for the challenges that awaits him.

Just as Kahmenrah teams up with the notorious villains of the world, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Al Capone, Larry finds himself in good company with the feisty Amelia Earhart, the giant statue of Abraham Lincoln, a friendly octopus, Able the Capucin sibling to Dexter, and General Custar, and is able to come up with a plan to keep the tablet out of the world-hungry hands of Kahmenrah and save the Smithsonian… All in one night! more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—The Writer, age 19 (USA)
Neutral—Me and my husband (who are Christians) just saw this movie, and we thought it was better than the first one and funny. But we agree there were a couple of things that should of not been said in the movie. There was talk in the movie about bringing up breast and talking about a very close relationship, when neither one was happening in the movie. I mean they did talk about it, but the one’s who said these things in the movie were wrong, because neither happened in the movie. So, I don’t think it should of been in the movie. It could of been left out.

When we were watching the movie, there were all age children there, besides adults. The movie was great. I would love to have it in our movie collection in our home. Oh, we paid a total for the 2 of us to see this movie was only $3.00, and that is worth it. If you as an adult want to see it do so, but maybe your kid won’t catch the part I had mentioned that is not appropriate to children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Julie D, age 37 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Although I didn’t think this movie was quite as good as the first one, it was still hilarious! The bad guy was probably one of my favorite characters because he was so funny!

But there was definitely more objectionable content than the first film, mostly from Amelia Ehrhart, who I thought was unneccessarily obnoxious and flirty. Amelia used to be one of my favorite characters when reading about history, and I don’t think she acted like that.

But, all in all, I thought it was a very entertaining movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 17 (USA)
Negative—I may be in the slight minority when I say this, but I rather enjoyed the first Night at the Museum. I thought it was a wonderful little family fantasy that approached storytelling in a delightfully lighthearted way. It was a good, imaginative time at the movies, and it was even quite funny at times. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get any of that out of Night at the Museum 2.

The first movie took an approach to filmmaking that I personally wish all comedies would use. It told its stories and slid in some humor where it worked, and it usually came off as funny, and it was almost never awkward. How I wish I could say the same for Night at the Museum 2!

Here, it was a constant onslaught of jokes, and almost none of them were funny. In fact, most of them were downright awkward and left me squirming in my seat wondering when they would end. I was, at times, actually embarrassed for the actors, especially Amy Adams, who has done far, far better for herself in terms of choosing her roles wisely. The characters who were hilarious in the first movie (I’m thinking especially of Jedediah and Octavius here) simply weren’t in this one. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Matt Triponey, age 17 (USA)
Positive—My dad took me and my brother and sister to see this movie. I thought it was a great movie, although they could have done without all the bad words, and all the using the Lord’s name in vain. I was also disappointed that Larry kissed Amelia Earhart, and the girl in the painting. There is a lot of kissing in it, it’s, also, at the end, kinda scary. Other than that, its a great movie. It’s definitely worth your time and money to go and see this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Shelby, age 10 (USA)
Negative—Although “entertaining,” the moral quality of this movie caused disappointment. The character “Amelia Earhart” was obnoxiously flirtatious, there was some nudity in the form of 'art sculptures'—nudity nonetheless—and profanity was scattered throughout (including one scene where God’s name was taken in vain three times or more). Would not recommend.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sarah, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this film. The history and nostalgia is not necessary as good as the first one, but still excellent. I really like the fact it has like a town hall, intimate feel the brings you right into the movie.

The only thing that would offend (only if you are extremely picky) is the brief kissing scenes between “Larry” and “Amelia” on various locations. The whole ideas of this is fun, but it was breaking into a federal facility and doing countless things that are illegal.

Overall, I really think they raised the bar on the visual effects, kept profanity to one word, and made a great movie as it regards to the informative, historical, and educative side of movies. A+
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Garrett T., age 15 (USA)
Positive—This movie was highly entertaining and action packed… Though there were a couple of d**ns said that did not need to be used. Also some frightening creatures came out that may scare younger children but other than that I thought this movie was enjoyable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emily, age 11 (USA)
Positive—This movie was a good one. There were 2 D-words, and some OMG’s, but other than that, the language was clean. The violence was very minor, and there was no sexual content. I recomend this movie to anyone, young or old!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lili, age 11 (Canada)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—We started watching this movie after it had started on our local network station. When the four-letter word was used by the Amelia Earhart character, we immediately stopped watching. It prompted a short discussion about why we are not watching movies with obscene language. Unfortunately, I did not do my homework ahead of time by reading reviews about this movie. I made wrong assumptions. In reading the other reviews, I, especially as a parent, do not understand how/why any of you who are offering guidance to other parents can make any recommendation to see this movie.
—Mark, age 58 (USA)