Showcasing a glittering array of comedy talent from Ben Stiller to Ricky Gervais, Night At The Museum is a rare family treat. After directing the tragically unfunny Pink Panther remake and equally awful Just Married, Shawn Levy puts faith in the actors and resists the impulse to hammer the jokes into extinction. It feels disjointed in places, but Stiller ably carries the burden as the nervy night watchman, who tussles with the exhibits that spring to life at closing time.
Larry lands the job after failing at everything else, including earning his son's respect (Jake Cherry). That relationship is the thread that pulls the story together although Levy treats it as an afterthought. He's more focussed on the action scenes and we're thrown into the deep end early on, when a skeletal T-Rex wakes Larry from a crafty nap… For a while the film is just about Larry running and screaming, thankfully these sequences are vividly realised, exciting and funny.
"GERVAIS IS TITTER-WORTHY"
Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan make an engaging double-act as miniature models of a western pioneer and Roman general (respectively), warring every night over territory. Gervais is also titter-worthy as the David Brent-alike museum director. Together with Stiller's manic turn - literally spanking a monkey in one priceless scene - they keep things ticking over nicely. Then eventually the plot kicks into top gear with Larry recruiting the exhibits to foil a robbery attempt. Despite a couple of half-hearted romantic subplots and earnest messaging on the virtues of doing your homework, this trip to the museum ends up being unusually fun.