Larry Daly (Ben Stiller) is a divorced dad living in New York City struggling to make a living from his various get-rich schemes. His former wife Erica (Kim Raver) doesn’t want to continue letting their son, Nick (Jake Cherry) visit him until he shows more stability.
Larry takes a job as the night watchman at the museum. The three retiring watchmen played by Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs, show Larry the ropes, and on their way out leave him a set of instructions while Cobb copies the key to the museum.
On Larry’s first night the whole place comes to life and he wants to quit. The next night things get better. He makes friends with the T-Rex skeleton and Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams). Of course, the three old watchmen are up to something, and the way it is resolved makes Nick believe in his dad once again.
Based on the book by Milan Trenc, it took two screenwriters (Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) to interpret it (rehash?) and get it into a screenplay. I was prepped to like the film by a colleague in London who had been to two pre-release screenings, but … as much as I wanted to like it, I thought it dragged on – and just wasn’t funny enough. The whole T-Rex sequence was straight out of a McDonald’s Super Bowl commercial from a few years ago and I liked it much better. The father-son plot was predictable, too. I always like Dick Van Dyke, but Mickey Rooney’s clichéd name-spewing failed to be cute after the first one. Even the scene with the monkey and Stiller slapping one another – it was funnier in the previews.
Night at the Museum, directed by Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen), is just OK (but the special visual effects are pretty awesome.)