Film

The Great Christmas Compromise

X-Mas Afternoon... At the Museum

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Dateline: December 25th, 2006, approximately 2:30 pm. The entirety of your otherwise estranged family is awkwardly congregated in your parents' living room, and everyone—from your step-sister's illegitimate, hyper-active progeny to your ancient "Uncle" Mark, whose glassy eyes have incidentally been weeping like a pug dog's all morning—has collectively blown their Christmas wad. Too early to start drinking (at least in front of the family), someone will invariably suggest a trip to the picture show for a nice, peaceful couple of hours sitting in a silent, darkened room... as a family. And whether anyone actually wants to or not, the movie you will probably be seeing is Night at the Museum.

A naturally dubious Ben Stiller vehicle, Night at the Museum weaves the tale of Larry Daley (Stiller), a ne'er-do-well divorcé forced to take a job as a night watchman at the Natural History Museum of New York so that he doesn't lose visitation rights to his young son. Left alone in the building, Larry soon finds that things are not quite as they seem, and that in this museum—as the script tirelessly reminds us—history really does come to life. Recycling the old Jumanji/Indian In the Cupboard motif to reasonably flashy effect, Stiller is soon facing down the living skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Attila the Hun and his army of minions, a mastodon, and—most impressively—the animated corpse of a milky-eyed Mickey Rooney.

With a script written by The State/Reno 911's Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon—the secret Glimmer Twins behind most every groan-worthy comedy released in the past three years (see: Herbie Fully Loaded, The Pacifier, Taxi, etc.)—Night at the Museum also features an entire cash-in collective of comedic talents (Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Dick Van Dyke), along with a mess of people who just think they're really funny (Robin Williams, Stiller). And while it might not be particularly entertaining, there are certainly worse things you could be doing to avoid actually communicating with your family. Or for you optimists out there, look at it this way: You might not really like Night at the Museum, but at least find solace in the fact you'll all be not really liking it... together.

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