Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

You know what the funny thing about comedic actors is? Well, other then the obvious fact that that they make us laugh. And actually, it’s really not even all that funny.

You know what the thing about comedic actors is?

They can get typecast very easily, meaning that they get stuck playing the same character over and over and over again.

Sure, it could happen to any kind of actor but it’s most dangerous when comes to comedians.

Say for example Christian Bale gets typecast as a dramatic, brooding leading man. Quite the stretch, but remember that this is a purely hypothetical situation. In any case, that doesn’t sound so bad right? There are countless scripts floating around Hollywood calling for just that, and what are the odds that eventually audiences get tired of watching big screen dramas?

The problem is that people can only watch and laugh at the same shtick for so long before it wears thin. So, with each film that a comedic actor makes where they play the same character, the closer they get to wearing out their welcome with the fans.

Some actors don’t mind this, they simply take the big payday and accept the fact that no one lasts forever in Hollywood. Others try and fight it by doing roles that are such a complete about-face that they end up alienating their fans.

There is a third option, however. Something that few have been able to achieve. That is to literally become good at everything. To move seamlessly from part to part like a ninja-spy-actor hybrid.

One actor who has managed to achieve this hybrid status is Ben Stiller, star of “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.”

Stiller can do it all comedically speaking. He can play the goofy, over-the-top instigator (“Zoolander,” “Dodgeball”) just as well as he does the straight-faced reactor (“Night at the Museum” franchise).

In “Museum 2,” Stiller is at his straight-guy best as Larry Daley, who has left his job as a night watchman to pursue a successful career as an inventor and TV pitchman. His crowning achievement when we first meet up with him in the film is a glow in the dark flashlight.

Larry occasionally stops by his old stomping grounds at the Museum of Natural History to visit his friends Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Jedidiah (Owen Wilson) and the rest of the exhibits who spring to life each night thanks to a mystical ancient Egyptian tablet.

It is during one of these visits that he learns that, due to declining revenues, most of the museum’s exhibits are due to be mothballed in the archives of the Smithsonian Institute and replaced by new, state-of-the-art, holograms.

It seems not even history is recession-proof.

Larry sets out with a renewed purpose in life, to save his friends from a future spent idly in a basement, only to discover something much worse could await them underneath the world’s largest museum.

It seems that an Egyptian pharaoh named Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), who also resides in the archives, plans to use the aforementioned magical tablet to open the gates to the underworld and take over the planet.

From there wackiness ensues as Larry must stop Kahmunrah’s diabolical, if somewhat lispy plan, while also dealing with a host of new exhibits coming to life around him.

The best thing going for “Museum 2” is its cast, which is essentially a who’s who of comedic talent.

Joining the already “Dream Team-esque” cast returning from the first film are Bill Hader who portrays the pompously hilarious General Custer, Christopher Guest as Ivan the Terrible, and what would a comedy be without a few cast members of “The Office” stopping by?

And then there’s Azaria, the man of a thousand voices. Actually that may be selling him a bit short.

Azaria dives right into his role as the flamboyant pharaoh looking to rule the world. Best known for his work on “The Simpsons,” Azaria never disappoints. He may just be the funniest guy in the world that almost no one would recognize if they saw him on the street.

In addition to playing Kahmunrah, Azaria also provided the voice for The Thinker and Abe Lincoln. While successfully portraying three characters in a movie may seen like a daunting task to most— notice the word successfully in there Eddie Murphy— its actually closer to a vacation for Azaria. He is credited with voicing about 20 different characters in 2007’s “The Simpsons Movie.”

This brings us to Amy Adams, whose spunky take on the famed aviator Amelia Earhart manages to steal the show from the boys on more than one occasion.

Adams is a Jill-of-all trades to go along with Stiller’s Jack. She’s fresh off an Oscar nomination for her dramatic turn in “Doubt,” and is perhaps best known for her work as a signing cartoon princess that stumbles into the real world in Disney’s “Enchanted.”

In “Museum 2” she proves that she has more than enough comedic chops to go head to head with some of the genre’s heavyweights.

CGI can make or break a movie like “Museum 2,” because there’s rarely a scene that doesn’t feature some form of it. Whether it be a gigantic Abraham Lincoln statue or a massive balloon dog bouncing around, there always seems to be some kind of digital wizardry going on. Outside of the occasional rough spot, the effects are amazing to look at.

Armed with an impressive cast, and a talented effects department, “Night at the Museum 2” is a movie for kids, and thus most of the humor is aimed at its target market. It’s no Pixar film, but that shouldn’t stop those who are only kids at heart from getting a few laughs out of it.

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