Early on in Night at the Museum 2 Steve Coogan’s General Octavius, after the plight of the characters has been explained, says to Ben Stiller, ‘I can see you’re slightly bothered.’ You won’t be. Not even. If you were considering checking this movie out, do yourself a favor and rent Jumanji instead. Same deal, little better.
The sorry excuse for an opening title sequence reveals one thing: Night at the Museum 2 is full of characters. But there are ‘characters’ and then there are characters. Night at the Museum 2 has the former in spades, the latter not at all. The movie features Amelia Earhart, Teddy Roosevelt, Al Capone, Napoleon, Abe Lincoln, General Custer, Einstein, a Roman soldier, a Cowboy, a Pharaoh, a pair of monkeys and a man named Larry Daley.
Once a guard in New York’s Museum of Natural History, where the exhibits come to life at night thanks to the mystical powers of an Egyptian tablet, Daley (Stiller) is a successful businessman, who we are introduced to as he shoots an infomercial for his latest product – the Daley Devices Glow in the Dark Flashlight – alongside infomercial veteran George Foreman in a less than amusing cameo. Stiller is in everyman mode here, which he can do just as well as his more eccentric roles, but in this case his character is completely lacking personality. Daley, in service of the wafer-thin plot, must prevent the animated exhibits from being put into storage in Washington, and in the process realize that the business enterprise that gave him nice suits, a big house, moderate fame and a good relationship with his son (cliché alert: the kid’s a self-sufficient computer whiz) is no replacement for working nights in a museum with kooky friends. Which makes sense moralistically, putting friendships before vain pursuits, except that Daley does not change at all over the course of the film.
The lack of characterization could be easily forgiven were the film funny or exciting in any way shape or form, but unfortunately most of the jokes are slaps to the face and funny voices, and any excitement that there might have been is negated by the failure to make you care about any of the characters. Jonah Hill's five-second appearance as a security guard that Daley spars with is the most entertaining part of the film. Amy Adams is adorable as ever playing Amelia Earhart, but has nothing to do. It's disappointing to see such heavyweight talent involved in the kind of ersatz ‘family fun’ that we have (regrettably) come to expect only from Eddie Murphy.
Night at the Museum 2 is soulless and bereft of all charm, with little entertainment value. A pedestrian and ultimately pointless sequel.