Starring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Dick Van
Released: 26th December 2006
Larry (Stiller) is an unaccomplished dreamer. He has grand ideas but never gets them to work out and with that has earned himself a divorce and a gradually worsening relationship with his young son.
Determined to put things right he decides to take the first stable job that comes along; night security at the Museum of Natural History. Three old timers (Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney and Bill Cobbs) are being laid off and replaced with one man because business has been slow.
But Larry wasn't told that one of the museums Egyptian artefacts carries a magical curse with it that brings everything in the building to life from nightfall to sun up. From the T-Rex bones in the foyer to an Easter Island head with Huns, prehistoric men and miniature civilisation dioramas in between.
It's up to Larry (with a little help from Teddy Roosevelt (Williams) to stop the animated displays from destroying the museum, themselves and, ultimately, his life.
Stiller has surrounded himself with quite an ensemble of comedy talent in this one. There's Williams representing the old school and Van Dyke and Rooney in for the reeeeally old school. Stiller doesn't go far without bosom-buddy Owen Wilson and there's also Steve Coogan who is slowly but surely edging his way into the comedy fraternity. Also is Gervais making another movie notch for himself (see: For Your Consideration coming soon!)
Each of these worthy names are given there moment to shine in their own way. Gervais, specifically, delivers a trademark performance of inane ramblings with aplomb and makes the most of a very understated role.
Setting itself up as a spooky film it quickly becomes apparent that it is just going to be plain silly. Lots of slapstick, pratfalls, anarchic tomfoolery and childish behaviour keep the story trundling along and actually take up more time than the, otherwise, sycophantic plot of rubbish father lowering his standards to try to make good.
Each set up for horror is twisted on its head to make it more appealing for the younger audience from the T-rex skeleton up to the climactic encounter with the Egyptian mummy. It's tame, it's innocent but it is harmless farm. A film to just switch off and let these guys get on with what they're good at.