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Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Jonah Hill, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer(s): Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon

Cinematography: John Schwartman

Original Score: Alan Silvestri

Running Time: 106 Mins.

The film sequel, by nature is bigger in scope, budget, cast in fact pretty much bigger in every way. Though 99.9% of the time they are not, fundamentally, bigger in terms of quality so it is with trepidation I approached Night At The Museum 2, a sequel to a film that was hugely lacklustre, taking a great premise with endless comic potential. Combined with one of America’s top comic talents in Ben Stiller, and came up with an end product that was deeply average, failing to capitalise on any of its potential. There really was no reason to expect anything other than something even more deeply disappointing from this…

But low and behold director Levy, whom plunged the comedy doldrums with The Pink Panther remake and Cheaper by the Dozen, and writers Garant and Lennon have come up with something that, whilst certainly no masterpiece, achieves something that its original did not, in being both consistantly sniggersome, if not laugh out loud funny, and just down right fun to watch.  

Comedies tend to take one of two approaches, the clever witty nuanced form or the throw as much at the screen and see if it works routine, it isn’t hard to guess which route Night at the Museum 2 takes and as we first meet Stiller’s Larry interviewed as a now famous inventor alongside George Foreman it becomes apparent there is little wit to come. As before Stiller is the everyman in the role he carries ever so tiredly now, but the film’s saviour comes in the form of the many exhibits and possibly the biggest array of comedy talent ever seen in a single film, if there were Oscars for best emsemble comedy cast, well this would hit the jackpot!

Moving the action from the museum of natural history in New York to Washingtons Smithsonian is sequel rule 101 (bigger museum, more exhibits) but in Amy Adams as Emilia Earhart the film has its coup-d’etat, as she ably brings the ‘almost’ innocent charm and general feeling of fun that Stiller is lacking in through his seeming boredom. You may have noticed I have yet to mention plot, and to be fair plot and a decent villain are two things lacking in the past installment, no its not going to test your brain but at least theres a beginning middle and end and some level of threat, even if bringing an undead army to life is a bit Mummy-ish!

Said villain is the counter to Adams charm, Hank Azaria in one of his all too few and far between acting roles. He is great fun as Kamunrah, exhibiting a lispy high camp voice and wearing a “dress” his axis of evil speech hints at a darker comedy than one may have expected from such family friendly fare. But just as your expectations are heightened ever so slightly it all comes crashing down with the lame slapstick humour that mired number one, not always unfunny but just leaving you expecting a little more given some of the talent involved, it is only when the likes of Azaria, Coogan and, in a cameo, Jonah Hill are let of the leash to ad-lib that you see and sigh at the comic potential that could have been mined.

VERDICT

Skim the cast list, a whos who of comedy talent, then lower your expectations  for Night at the Museum 2 and you will find lighthearted enjoyment and entertainment in abundance, though largely only slapstick based sniggers rather than whole hearted belly laughs! 

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