Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is between jobs. Again. His brilliant inventions are either too far ahead of their time or already taken. This is wearing on his son Nick (Jake Cherry) who at ten years old is already developing a back up plan in case his first career choice doesn't pan out.
At the urging of his ex-wife (Kim Raver), Larry decides to get a steady job to help put stability into his son's life. The only job the employment agency thinks he is qualified for is night guard at the museum. There, he will be replacing three old guards (Dick van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs) who are being downsized due to budget cutbacks.
His first night on the job, he's in for a surprise. Between dusk and dawn, the entire collection of the museum comes to life. Suddenly, he finds himself dealing with everything from a dinosaur skeleton that wants to play catch to Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams). The animals in the African display want to eat him or take his keys. And in the diorama room, it's not Cowboys verses Indians, but Cowboys verses Romans. Larry has no clue how to deal with all this nonsense. Will he find a way or will he quit when the going gets tough like he always does?
When the trailers started showing up for this movie this summer, I couldn't wait to see this film. Fortunately, I was rewarded with a fun flick. There's lots of humor from the premise and Larry's attempts to deal with things only makes things funnier. While there are a couple momentarily scare scenes, the majority of them are played for laughs, so only the most easily frightened will be scared by it.
Ben Stiller is perfect as Larry, and the rest of the cast is great as well. I especially liked seeing Dick van Dyke on the big screen again. Owen Wilson and Steve are perfect as the leaders of the Cowboys and Romans. They play off each other perfectly.
These days, we are used to great special effects, and this movie is no exception. Yet they are part of the story and never take over.
The movie's only flaw is the story. The themes are familiar, but since there are so many of them, they get short changed. Taking out one would have made for a stronger film since the rest of them would have been better developed. And there's a third act plot twist and needed a better set up earlier in the film. Still, these are minor complaints.
While the story could have been a little better, that's a minor quibble. For the most part, this is exactly what it sets out to be, fun entertainment the entire family will enjoy.