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'Night at the Museum'

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Night at the Museum
Directed by Shawn Levy
20th Century Fox
Opens December 22

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Ben Stiller— as usual, frazzled with a touch of hipster frump—is a divorced dad in need of a gig, lest his cutie-pie kid wind up spending all of his time with uptight, bond-trading New Dad (Paul Rudd, wasted in a straitlaced cameo). So Stiller's Larry takes a job as night watchman at the Museum of Natural History, where things go bump in the night thanks to an Egyptian trinket that animates stuffed mannequins and waxworks. The first half-hour's too slow; the last half-hour's too manic, as if to compensate. But at least it entertains, thanks in large measure to the buddy-pic relationship between Owen Wilson's miniature cowpoke and his Roman pal Steve Coogan. Stiller's almost irrelevant to the proceedings; his best scene involves a smartass monkey slapping him stupid, which is as dumb as it sounds. But he's boring because he has to be, lest Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) run off with Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck) while Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney (notwax figures—really) get away with the goods. Yeah, it's that kind of holiday movie.

 
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