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Ricky Gervais extra

Tuesday 26 May 2009, 12:00

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the museum, Britain's favourite entertainer who so far has negotiated an admirable path through Hollywood's minefield choosing to appear mainly in such smart outings as Ghost Town is back with Ben Stiller in cash cow sequel Night at the Museum 2. Is 'e 'avin a laugh?

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    Comment number 1.

    I don't have anything to add to that i'm afraid, but I agree whole heartedly. I'm a big fan of his work and Ghost Town was even better than what I was hoping for.

    PS: I'm looking forward to getting Martyrs on Blu ray this week.


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    Comment number 2.

    The original was clearly a returned favour for Stiller putting in an appearance on Extras.

    The sequel, as you say, was probably because he didn't have to do much (and has been in the states recently anyway filming his own production The Invention Of Lying.)

    And they put him on the poster because they know that it wouldn't have helped sales if they hadn't.

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    Comment number 3.

    If they offered me millions of dollars, for two days work,I would do it.

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    Comment number 4.

    I also doubt Gervais did the role simply for money.

    It gets you exposure and was probably a lot of fun.

    It also probably pays to keep the likes of stiller happy by accepting, you know, as a kind of insurance policy.

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    Comment number 5.

    Gervais was only put on the UK poster for recognition value. If you look at the posters for international releases, they don't have him on there. (I have to say also that Gervais seems quite sloppily airbrushed in)

    UK: http://www.empirecinemas.co.uk/?page=synopsis&filmid=1633
    US: http://www.impawards.com/2009/night_at_the_museum_battle_of_the_smithsonian.html

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    Comment number 6.

    Obviously he's only on the British posters... who'd know who he was anywhere else?

    And obviously they put him on it here... they'd be under the impression he's loved by us all here.

    And obviously he did it for the money... that's what work is.

    And obviously he wasn't in it much... he wasn't exactly pivotal for the first.

    You should relax Dr K and stop studying the posters and trailers they're a whole other creative process to film.

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    Comment number 7.

    Night At The Museum 2 was vile, and (partial) proof that Ricky Gervais is at his best when acting lines that he has some sense of authorship over; not necessarily that he wrote, but something that's had the work put in, and that feels like it would come from his mouth.

    NITM2 was horribly written, clearly banged out over a brief half-hour for a committee and set up purely for the guest list of A-grade comic actors. What a waste. I felt totally robbed watching it, as hopefully did the many, MANY parents taking their kids to the screening I attended. I heard very few laughs. Putting Christopher Guest/Eugene Levy/Ricky Gervais/Steve Coogan/etc in a film for the sake of it will excite none of the key demographic (ie children) and is there purely for egocentricity.

    I've no problem with that at all, but have a script that's up to the A-listers talent is what I want.

    I feel purged.

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    Comment number 8.

    Am I the only person who thinks Ricky Gervais cannot act to save his life?

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    Comment number 9.

    Most likely

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    Comment number 10.

    I think he can act, but he can only do one style of acting, and it's one that doesn't really fit into most Hollywood films. I am a fan of him, but I found his cameo in the first Night At The Museum cringeworthy, because his style just wasn't working and he didn't really seem to have anything funny to do.

    I generally agree with the Dr here, I admire Gervais for not just doing any old stuff after becoming successful. If anything I would say that he's done the opposite and he is a little over-selective, except for when it comes to Night at the Museum 1&2.

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    Comment number 11.

    It is unfortunately indicative of the need in Hollywood circles to get almost every single character back for a sequel because they don't really understand why the original was successful.

    It is a similar syndrome to how Mackenzie Crook ended up in Pirates 2&3 and how Josh Duhamel will be in Transformers 2 despite in both of these cases that their dull one dimensional characters barely deserved a place in the original movies.

    Studios don't really understand why movies get successful so they just get everyone back because they fear that dumping a character could alienate some people who had a real love of the character originally. Sad really because it explains how we end up with so few good quality sequels; the characters don't change or grow or develop in any meaningful way due mainly to corporate fear.

    Either way, I read Gervais did NATM2 purely for the money so I assume he got a lot; who can really blame him for that.

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    Comment number 12.

    Anyone foolish enough to go and see this in the first place deserves what they get!

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    Comment number 13.

    Although I have no respect for Ricky Gervais, the use of him and the other great comedic talent in the film is a just a very sad marketing ploy so the studio can make money. By using the recogniseable talents of Hank Azaria, Gervais, Christopher Guest Steve Coogan etc. will give a certain appeal to adults as well as children. Kids want to see it because it looks 'fun' and the adults will take kids along because they can also have the added bonus of seeing some great comedy talent who we usually see providing comedy more for adults. Don't get in a fuss over it, it's only marketing.

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    Comment number 14.

    I'm aware that this is almost entirely off topic, but I must ask, have you met and talked to Karl Pilkington? Please tell us.

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    Comment number 15.

    'Night at the Museum 1 & 2'

    are surely indicators of that Mark was right when he proclaimed narrative has been replaced by a 'bunch of stuff' happening in Hollywood movies.

    What are Museums full of? Historical 'stuff' and a whole 'bunch' of it. At night all this 'stuff' comes to life and a whole 'bunch' of 'stuff' happens to the 'bunch' of exhibits.

    What annoys me with family films at the minute is there seems to be a 'that'll do' sort of an attitude. You can tell Stiller and co, just thought 'get my comedy buddies in, have a laugh doing it, get it in at 100 mins, that'll do'

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    Comment number 16.

    I went to see Night at The Museum and thought it was okay. The first thing I have to say is that movies wouldn't be made if they didn't make money, including the Exorcist, so to have a pop at films on that basis is a bit of a cheap shot (see what I did there). I laughed at most of the comic sequences and during one Hank Azaria scene I did that thing where you laugh so hard no sound comes out which hasn't happened to me in the cinema for a while. I accept it's not a great story but I'm not sure why that's necessarily important as long as the film doesn't take itself too seriously. It was like an episode of the Simpsons, lots of visual gags and witty remarks. Entertainment.

    I'm not sure how you can bemoan the death of narrative cinema the week after giving the ludicrous Star Trek an endorsement. What did you say on the podcast "...but it's Star Trek"? Well "..but it's Night at the Museum". Maybe it's a horror geeks vs science ficton geeks thing but I have a suspicion part of you enjoyed watching the death of Star Trek.

    Putting Gervais on the poster is a con, but I enjoyed the film without him so I don't care. After the poster for War of the Worlds (Greatest action epic of all time) I don't expect too much...

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    Comment number 17.

    I think Ricky definitely can act. I say this because there is a scene in the first series of The Office that really proved his acting chops for me. It's the scene in the last episode when he is literally begging to keep his job. The emotion in his face, and in his voice, well it blew me away to be honest. I cried buckets when I saw that episode.

    He is one of the few people who can have me laughing out loud one minute, then sobbing the next. Anyone who can do that is a good actor in my book.

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    Comment number 18.

    Dr Kermode, I have just been reading the 200th edition of Empire magazine. There is a piece where they are asking various directors if they are going to work in 3 - D. Most of them say yes, but I really liked the answer given by Sam Mendes, who says "I have. It's called the theatre."

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    Comment number 19.

    Dear Doctor Kermode,
    Whilst in no way even remotely related to the present topic being discussed on the blog, I was nevertheless interested in gauging the good Doctor's reaction (whether positive or negative!) to the recently released, fan-produced film 'The Hunt for Gollum'. Filmed and produced with a meagre budget of roughly £3,000, this short 40 minute production still manages to put many big-budget blockbusters to shame. Despite the lack of a truly gripping central narrative and distinctly dodgy camerawork in parts, the short still manages to involve the viewer in proceedings and once again immerses one in the world of Middle-Earth. Pivotally, however, is it possible to discern whether or not there is a viable future for fan-produced films operating on a low budget (vis a vis the current economic climate, audience demand for said productions and competition with mainstream cinema)?
    Hoping this provides some food for thought,


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    Comment number 20.

    Hi Dr Mark,

    I personally can't stand these kind of films that are used as a vehicle to sell the particular brand of a certain artist.

    Other films like 'Around The World In 80 Days' and 'The Great Race' or 'Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines', and many others. Are so patronising to the audience.

    We are supposed to say 'Oh look it's what's his name doing something funny with another surprising what's his name' - but sadly they're not.

    Their just the same people in funny clothes, in a film with no plot or integrity.

    Audiences deserve more.


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