Pronounced dead on arrival: the $100 million movie whose cast of giants, minis, and monkeys supposedly “comes to life” at night. Ben Stiller (pictured) gets booed and the storytelling gets straight-up insulted. Dammit, critics. Shame on you for making the T-Rex cry.
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wants to see Ben Stiller get mauled: “You know Ben Stiller isn’t coming off well in Night at the Museumwhen his character, a third-shift security guard at New York’s Museumof Natural History, is beset by Attila the Hun and his marauding hordesand you find yourself rooting for the hordes.”
Claudia Puig, USA Today: “Stiller is as wooden in many scenes as some of the museum figures during daylight hours.”
Justin Chang, Variety: “History comes alive in Night at the Museum – the movie, alas, does not.” Or how about vote of confidence? “Yet surprisingly for a film that consists of one eye-popping bedazzlementafter another, the overall feeling provoked is one of blandindifference.”
David Germain, Associated Press: “Other than the basic plot point of inanimate creatures coming alive andsome occasionally inventive visual effects, Night at the Museum isunimaginative and annoying, as movies by director Shawn Levy (Cheaperby the Dozen, The Pink Panther) often are.”
My hypothesis is that these critics weren’t surrounded by gigglylittle kids, as I was at the movie’s New York premiere. Staged insidethe actual American Museum of Natural History, the event itself was atreat, since the children got to sleep over and I got to walk past themoose and the flying squirrels late at night when the lights were off.The movie was fun, too. Think kids like the AMNH guests can spreadenough positive word-of-mouth to counteract the critics? Only time andthe box office figures will tell, right PopWatchers?