Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
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”?
|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, Jon Bernthal, See all »|
|Producer:||21 Laps Entertainment, 1492 Pictures, See all »|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
“When the lights go off the battle is on.”
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.