Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Movie Poster Image
Fun, fast-paced sequel is more upbeat than the original.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 105 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 44 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 67 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Kids will pick up a few bits and pieces about historical characters and eras -- though much of it isn't exactly textbook accurate.

Positive messages

The movie has a strong positive message about being true to yourself and doing what you love in order to be happy. Some rude behavior (especially on the part of a monkey), but less potty humor than in the first movie.

Positive role models & representations

Larry is mildly self involved at the start of the movie but ends up helping his friends when they need him. His enemies are cartoonishly villainous and not meant to be taken seriously as role models. Amelia Earhart is a spunky, independent woman who's a strong role model for girls.

Violence & scariness

Larry and his friends are frequently chased and threatened -- both verbally and with weapons (spears, lances, swords, guns) -- by Kahmunrah and his flunkies (which include Egyptian soldiers, '30s gangsters, Ivan the Terrible and his Russian hordes, and more), but no one is seriously hurt. Some fighting. Plenty of action and peril, but most of it comes with a lighthearted, adventurous tone. A giant octopus wreaks havoc in some scenes, which scare younger kids -- as could a creepy sequence involving a gate to the Egyptian underworld. Larry gets in a slapping match with a pair of monkeys.

Sexy stuff

Some flirting, a few kisses (a couple fairly passionate), and a couple of innuendoes (the latter will likely go right over kids' head). A few naked/scantily clad statues, but nothing sensitive is shown.

Language

Pretty mild -- only a few uses of words like "dammit," "suck," "fanny," "stupid," "oh my God," and "shut up." Amelia uses lots of old-fashioned slang, like "jimmyjacked" and "moxie."

Consumerism

Wal-Mart is mentioned by name a few times, an obvious Microsoft Virtual Earth brand/label pops up on a computer screen in an early scene, Motorola and Apple products are used, and Larry discusses flashlight brands with another guard.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this follow up to the smash hit Night at the Museum is very similar in content to the original movie -- so if your kids liked that one, they'll get a kick out of this one, too. Expect lots of generally lighthearted, effects-heavy chaos and action, with slapstick chases and confrontations and some moments of peril and danger (including scenes in which a somewhat scary giant octopus wreaks havoc and others involving creepy soldiers from the Egyptian underworld). Main characters get into fights and are threatened with weapons (guns, spears, swords) and words, but no one is seriously injured. One thing that's "missing" is the uneven father-son relationship from the first movie -- this one skips the family angst in favor of a more romantic subplot that helps keep things more upbeat overall. There's a little language and some kissing, but no drinking or smoking.

User Reviews

Parent of a 4 and 9 year old Written bymichugalug July 12, 2009

e.g. Perfect for older kids, but not for tweens

Ok, so this is a movie my 9-year-old loved, but...not me. Good historical information, however, I don't approve of the following: 1. Amelia Earhart slapp...
Parent Written byLDSWarrior March 19, 2010

Good Movie, Bad Mouth.

The story line went well, There were a few parts that were educational, I enjoyed the small tidbits of history embedded in the movie. It was a creative scene...
Kid, 11 years old December 29, 2009

Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) steals the show!

I love this movie, but the ending wasn't great. Amelia definitally shows that girls cn do anything boys can do. Some little kids could get scared. Walmart...
Teen, 13 years old Written bygreenactress July 10, 2009

funny

Good movie, totallyapropriate, not as good as the first one, but very funny. Good family film.

What's the story?

Having left the halls of Manhattan's Museum of Natural History behind for a successful career designing and marketing products like a glow-in-the-dark flashlight, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is dismayed when he finds out that all of his museum pals are being shipped off to deep storage at the Smithsonian to make way for new high-tech exhibits. But soon a distress call from miniature cowboy Jed (Owen Wilson) brings Larry to D.C., where he must outsmart cranky ancient Egyptian Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria) if he wants to save his friends. With the help of spunky pilot Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), Larry just might come through -- but not before the entire Smithsonian museum complex comes to chaotic, colorful life.

Is it any good?

Fans of the first Night at the Museum should enjoy this fun, fast-paced sequel -- which has just as many impressive effects as the first and a slightly more upbeat (if not more original) story. Larry is no longer a sad-sack divorced dad but a successful businessman who just needs a little course correction to get back to doing what he really loves. And even though the basic premise -- museum exhibits come to life at night with the help of a magic Egyptian tablet -- is the same as in the first movie, moving the action to the Smithsonian means that everything takes place on an even grander scale. Here, it's not just dioramas and dinosaur skeletons that perk up when the sun goes down -- sculptures roam the hallways, paintings move (shades of Harry Potter), and airplanes soar.

Like the plot, Stiller's performance is pretty much identical to the first movie -- he's wry, dry, and expert at tossing off quips. Adams is a welcome addition as the perky, slang-talking Earhart (even though her romantic interest in Larry seems a bit forced); Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader is manically charming as a blustery General Custer; and Azaria turns Kahmunrah into a somewhat more peevish version of The Blue Raja, the dandified underdog he played in Mystery Men. Other fun cameos abound, but, frankly, kids probably won't notice or care -- they'll be too busy watching the living exhibits fight and frolic. Battle of the Smithsonian may not be destined for a museum itself, but it's plenty of fun for adventure-loving tweens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the message behind all of the fancy effects. Why is it important to do what makes you happy?

  • How is Larry inspired to go after his dreams? How have his dreams changed since the first movie?

  • Families can also discuss the historical figures and events that the movie touches on. How could you learn more about Amelia Earhart, the Tuskegee Airmen, and other characters featured in the movie? Parents: Channel kids' excitement about the movie into a library trip or online history session.

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