The Bottom Line
- Boasts a huge cast of good comedians.
- Better than the original Night at the Museum.
- The Blu-ray disc looks and sounds fantastic and is packed with bonus material.
- Will appeal mostly to children.
- Release Date: 12/1/09
- Running Time: 105 minutes
- Rated PG for mild action and brief language
- 2.35:1 Widescreen/1080p; Dolby 5.1 DTS-HD (English)/Dolby 5.1 (Spanish, French, Portuguese)
- English SDH/Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Portuguese Subtitles
- Commentary with Director Shawn Levy/Commentary with writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant
- Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
- Gag Reel
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette and More
- Also includes DVD of the Film and Digital Copy
Guide Review - Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - Blu-ray Review
I was surprised at how favorably I responded to Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian when I saw it in the summer of 2009. Though I recognized its many flaws and the limitations of its broad commercial appeal, I still found it to be a nice surprise; I wasn't crazy about the original Museum, and the prospect of "more of the same" didn't hold much appeal for me. And while Smithsonian is, in many ways, more of the same, it's done with more energy and gets a boost from comedians like Bill Hader and blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances from Craig Robinson, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling and more (not to mention a terrific supporting turn from non-comedian Amy Adams, who sells the heck out of every second of her screen time). Watching the movie again on Blu-ray, a bit of that pleasantly-surprised charm had worn off. I knew now what to expect, and with the spectacle of IMAX taken out of the equation I could better pay attention to things like dialogue and the film's loose, lazy plotting.
That's not to say I disliked NATM:BOTS entirely this time out. It was still a reasonably fun diversion and offered a chance to spend time with a host of comedians. It undoubtedly plays better for kids (that's who it's geared towards, after all), but at least tries to make history come alive and teach young audiences little history lessons along the way. Loud and frantic as the movie may be, I can think of far worse ways for kids to spend a couple of hours.
The Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Blu-ray comes packed with bonus features, though only a handful of them will appeal to the over-12-year-old set. There are featurettes devoted to the monkey and games for kids to play, as well as some indulgent offerings from generic director Shawn Levy. However, comedy fans may be drawn to features like the gag reel featuring comedians like Bill Hader and Ben Stiller cracking each other up (though there's a whole lot of forgotten and flubbed lines, where are rarely funny), or a longer cut of the funny (but shoehorned) scene between Stiller and Jonah Hill. My favorite extra is the running commentary provided by former State and Reno 911! cast members and NATM: BOTS screenwriters Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. I'm fascinated by these two as screenwriters, as they've been involved in some of the funniest sketch comedy of the last 20 years but continue to crank out scripts for sub-par movies (including The Pacifier, Herbie: Fully Loaded and the original Night at the Museum). Hearing them discuss what went into writing Smithsonian helped me understand some of their choices a bit better; plus, it's just a lot of fun to hear them goof around during the movie. I'm proud of Fox for including this commentary -- it seems like a bone thrown specifically to comedy fans who might not otherwise be into the film.
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