Night at the Museum Shawn Levy

Do people in Hollywood read anything other than children’s books? On the evidence of late, the answer is no, and Night in the Museum is proof that the trend might need to be reversed. Ben Stiller plays a failed businessman who takes a position as a night watchman at New York’s Museum of Natural History. Imagine his surprise when the mannequins, miniatures and dinosaur bones come to life and wreak havoc. Mayhem naturally ensues but he has bigger fish to fry: can he stop the looting of the museum that’s going on behind his back? And can he impress his son with his cool new job? The film (based on kid-lit by Milan Trenc) isn’t embarrassing but that’s all you can say for it; it’s mostly bland, middle of the road and largely bereft of good comedic lines. There’s no attempt to make the film distinctive or interesting — Shawn Levy directs with a lot of brown, and celebrity appearances by Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan and Ricky Gervais only establish how to waste a bunch of talented people. Of course, there are Spielberg hand-me-downs — Stiller’s need to prove himself as a father comes straight from the master’s oeuvre — but mostly it’s a movie you barely notice if you don’t have excitable children. Extras include a serious, thorough commentary by director Shawn Levy, a far jokier one with writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, a typically glad-handing "making of” clip and five similarly convivial featurettes on elements from directing to costuming to monkey wrangling. As well there’s an uninformative episode of Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy, a ten-minute feature from Fox Movie Channel Presents, an informative interview with Levy and a trio of film students, a storyboard-to-screen comparison, eight deleted/extended scenes with director commentary, a blooper reel and a DVD-Rom game. (Fox)