As a fan of Ben Stiller's first "Night at the Museum," I grew increasingly ill at ease with each subsequent trailer for its sequel, "Battle of the Smithsonian," and my fears were unsurprisingly well founded.
The film is bigger than the first in every conceivable way, except perhaps in the one that matters, its story. The messy script is more a collection of scattershot hit and miss jokes than a legitimate follow-up to its intermittently exciting predecessor, and the film is resultantly crowded, frenetic, and unfocused. Celebrities abound, and packed so tight that they seem to get about two minutes of screen time in apiece before the film's fickle eye roves elsewhere.
But that's not to suggest that none of the fun of the first film has survived, and the new "Museum" moves too quickly to ever become stagnant, with plenty of amusing jokes amidst the clunkers, and occasionally strong comedic performances. Among the best are Hank Azaria as Kahmunrah, the curiously fictitious fifth king of Egypt and antagonist, Amy Adams as a randy Amelia Earhart, and a woefully underused Bill Hader as George Custer, whose last shot at redemption screams to have been the focus of the story.
"Night at the Museum 2" lacks the creative ingenuity that lifted the original above its potential mediocrity, and flounders as a result. However, there's enough kinetic energy and successful gags to make this a halfway decent diversion for fans.