Reviewed by: Maggie Hays
|Featuring||Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Kim Raver, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais|
|Director||Shawn Levy—“Cheaper by the Dozen,” “The Pink Panther,” “Just Married”|
|Producer||Chris Columbus, Stephen Sommers, Bob Ducsay|
|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Everything comes to life.”
This is meant to be a family film, and is safe to take the kids to see. The film begins with Larry (Ben Stiller) trying to find a job. He, obviously, has had many jobs and is having trouble sharing custody of his son because of his undependable life situation. Larry gets hired as the night security guard at the Museum of Natural History, where he is told “don’t let anything IN or OUT.” What he doesn’t realize is that everything comes alive at night. (“Lock up the lions or they will eat you”).
One thing that I found objectionable was Mickey Rooney’s character—a crotchety old security guard losing his job as Larry is hired. He likes to call people names. No profanity is used, but I noticed the little boys in the theatre laughed at his ill-temper and name-calling, and you may want to discuss this with younger children before letting them see this movie. Rude behavior is modeled here, and you may not want your little boys to copy it. One exhibit repeatedly calls Larry “Dum Dum.”
This movie reminded me a little of the old “Three Stooges” films, full of slapstick. There is even a scene where Larry and a monkey have a confrontation and continually slap each other across the face. Again, the little boys in the audience thought this was great fun, and you may not want your little boy to copy this behavior. There is an attempt at innuendo that went right over most kids’ heads, as a cowboy exhibit says “My impotent situation is that my guns won’t fire,” as he is without bullets and can’t fight the Romans. There is an Egyptian artifact that brings everything to life each night; some people might be offended by this kind of mysticism.
I do not recall hearing any foul language, other than crudities like “pee” when a monkey urinates on Larry. There was no sex or nudity. At one point Rebecca (Carla Cugino), a docent at the Museum who befriends Larry, profanes God’s name when she is shocked by the situation (“Oh my GD!”).
The movie is well-made and full of special effects. This film reminded my family of “Indian in the Cupboard.” My favorite thing about the movie is Alan Silvestri’s excellent music score.
While there are no religious references of any kind in this story, there are some good values portrayed, as Larry helps the exhibits in their various trials, showing that he cares about them. (He helps the cavemen have fire, plays fetch with the T-Rex, tries to get the Union and Confederate troops to stop fighting in the Civil War exhibit, and helps Rebecca meet Sacagawea, about whom Rebecca is writing a dissertation.) We also see Larry’s relationship with his son strengthen as his son develops new respect for his father.
My guess is that, after seeing this film, a lot more kids will want to visit museums.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.