Doane Gregory
Josh Rottenberg
May 18, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Current Status
In Season
105 minutes
Wide Release Date
Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson
Shawn Levy
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
Comedy, Kids and Family

We gave it a B+

Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Release date: May 22

When the first Night at the Museum opened in late 2006 to mixed reviews, no one predicted it would become a monster hit. But the family comedy-adventure yarn, about a Museum of Natural History guard (Stiller) who’s stunned when the museum’s exhibits come to life, had some serious legs. And $251 million in grosses later, Levy is feeling the heat with his sequel: ”There’s a whole different level of expectation with this one. It’s not just the summer — it’s freaking Memorial Day!” So how to top the first film? For starters, the action shifts to Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution. ”The Smithsonian is 19 museums, so the scope of things that can come to life is far more diverse,” says Levy. ”It’s not just creatures — it’s artwork and aircraft and a lot of cool s—.” To keep things on a human scale, the film introduces a romance involving Amelia Earhart (Adams), as well as a new villain: an evil pharaoh (Azaria) bent on world domination. ”The first film never really had a bad guy,” Stiller notes. Azaria, who also stars in this summer’s Year One as the Jewish patriarch Abraham, was happy to oblige. ”Not a bad year, playing the father of the Jews and an Egyptian pharaoh,” says Azaria, drily. ”On Passover, I might attack myself.”

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