Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant
Starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, and Hank Azaria
This film is a sequel to Night at the Museum which was also directed by Shawn Levy and written by Thomas Lennon and Robert ben Garant (from Comedy Central's Reno 911.) Ben Stiller returns as Larry Daley, who since the first film has become the founder and president of Daley's Devices. For those that don't remember in the first film he was going from job to job trying to find some direction. At the start of this film he has found success but isn't quite happy. Work is going great but keeps him from visiting the museum to spend time with his friends. If you haven't seen the first film his friends are museum exhibits who come to life when the sun sets thanks to an ancient Egyptian artifact.
Larry finally has time to visit only to discover that many of the exhibits are on their way to the Smithsonian. The curator of the museum, played by the great Ricky Gervais, has decided to use holograms to do the work of the old wax figures. Long story short the exhibits arrive, come to life at the Smithsonian, and then run into trouble. It's up to Larry to come to their aid along with the help of new friends including, Amilia Earhart played by Amy Adams.
Stiller is a talented actor and for the first time in awhile I noticed that he wasn't relying on ability to play the slightly uncomfortable guy. He plays Larry with a sense of confidence and purpose but doesn't take the role too seriously. Amy Adams is great as the fast talking Amilia Earhart and she clearly is having a lot of fun with the 1920's lingo. She also plays the character with a sense of awareness about her existence. Even though she never comes right out and says it she knows that she is an exhibit at a museum but she is enjoying her adventure. She is also aware that her slang is out of date but she doesn't care either. She knows who she is and she loves it.
My favorite scene was when Stiller has a confrontation with another guard played by Jonah hill. The two very funny performers have a lot of fun with the scene and at the same time it serves a purpose in the larger plot. Which is why the performances and ultimately the film works.
The greatest strength of Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian is the performances. The cast is stacked with great comedic actors who are all given a chance to shine. The reason the film works is because of the actors but the credit goes to Shawn Levy who knows how to use their talents to form a great ensemble. It would have been easy for Levy to just hand it over to the actors. He could have easily sat back and let the funny people do funny things in front of the camera. Instead he plays them off each other and gives us just the right dose of their antics.
The result is a very fun whimsical adventure full of laughs and a good amount of heart. I had a good time with this film.