Rated: PG • Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes Starring: Ben Stiller as Larry Daley; Robin Williams as Teddy; Dick Van Dyke as Cecil; Carla Gugino as Rebecca; Owen Wilson as Jedediah; Steve Coogan as Octavius; Mickey Rooney as Gus; Ricky Gervais as Dr. McPhee Director: Shawn Levy Themes: Perseverance, teamwork, meeting people at their point of need, challenges of divorce and parenting, trustworthiness, empathy, the richness of history, extending
grace, looking past conflict to find common ground Cautions: A mystical Egyptian tablet gives the exhibits life. There are brief references to Darwinism and Attila the Hun’s fascination with dark sorcery. Language is limited to a few innuendos, “oh my god”s and the phrase “Don’t be a kissa--.” A monkey urinates on Larry. There’s lots of mild action violence, though battles on the museum floor usually have a humorous edge.
Greatness has eluded Larry Daley. Attempts to make a name for himself have left this down-and-out dreamer and divorced dad in need of a job and desperate to earn his 10-year-old son’s respect. Larry feels a sense of urgency now that his ex-wife is set to remarry, so he grudgingly accepts a menial night-watchman position at New York’s Museum of Natural History. Cutbacks have forced the curator to retire the three elderly guards—Cecil, Gus and Reginald—in favor of one young newcomer. Despite some resentment, the outgoing watchmen (who appear to have something up their sleeves) feel that Larry will be a useful replacement. Guests gone. Employees clocked-out. Doors locked. Larry settles in for a dull shift surrounded by wax dummies, static dioramas and silence, save for the echo of his own footsteps on the cold marble floor. But his first night on the job proves to be no ordinary assignment. First, the skeleton of a toothy tyrannosaurus vanishes from its pedestal. Flashlight in hand, Larry finds it drinking from a water fountain, and soon discovers that everything in the museum comes to life after dark. With Cecil’s cryptic advice ringing in his ears (“Don’t let anything in or out”), Larry calls his predecessor, who directs him to a dog-eared set of instructions for surviving the chaos. It turns out the marauding dinosaur wants nothing more than to play fetch. But keeping it busy is the least of Larry’s problems. Attila the Hun and his henchmen are on the loose, a Civil War reenactment has gotten totally out of hand, and miniature civilizations want to destroy each other. Larry must also cage hungry lions while keeping a mischievous capuchin monkey from stealing his keys. Lucky for him, Teddy Roosevelt charges in and helps him restore order. Overwhelmed and tempted to quit, Larry realizes that success requires perseverance and hard work. Teddy issues the challenge, “Some men are born to greatness. Others have it thrust upon them. For you, this is that very moment.” So Larry decides to study up on his history for a better understanding of the characters in his care. He scours the library and hunts down information on the Internet. He picks the brain of a pretty tour guide fascinated with Sacajawea. And after a rocky introduction to four-inch cowboy Jedediah and his equally miniscule rival, Octavius of the Roman Legion, Larry tries to show those warring factions from the diorama room what they have in common. Despite nightly challenges (such as having a Neanderthal wander outside and turn to dust at daybreak) and hassles from his clueless, uptight boss, Dr. McPhee, Larry settles in and decides to let his son, Nick, in on his secret. Eager to score points with the boy, he takes him to work but is shocked and embarrassed when, at the appointed time, nothing happens. That’s because Cecil, Gus and Reginald have stolen the ancient Egyptian tablet of Ahkmenrah, which is responsible for animating the exhibits. Apparently, that powerful artifact was also responsible for making the old men feel young again—a perk they weren’t ready to give up when they lost...
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