New twists can't hide Night at the Museum's flaws

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1255/1242835599-night_at_museum.jpg The original Night at the Museum basically ran on the premise of “What happens at the museum after the doors are locked for the night?” Apparently, it’s some wacky stuff. Lock Ben Stiller in there with all the historic artifacts and you’ll get even more wackiness. This CGI-heavy and pop culture-speckled sequel to the 2006 hit is more of the same. This time, Stiller’s former nightwatchman Larry — now a successful entrepreneur behind a bunch of infomercial crap, including a glow-in-the-dark flashlight — must save his old natural history museum pals from an evil resurrected pharaoh (played by a lisping Hank Azaria) who’s stolen the magic tablet that brings them to life. Adding to that otherworldly problem, most of the museum’s artifacts have been packed away and shipped to the Smithsonian for storage. All of the first film’s characters return: Owen Wilson’s cowboy, Robin Williams’ Teddy Roosevelt, the talking Easter Island statue, the monkey. The Smithsonian adds a bunch of new historical and pop-culture icons to the mix, including Amelia Earhart (a peppy and excellent Amy Adams), General Custer, Ivan the Terrible, Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch. This Museum is also loaded with cameos by various Office stars, Saturday Night Live alum and Jonah Hill, who plays an overzealous guard who squares off against Larry in one of the movie’s funniest scenes. But a few new twists — classic paintings and photographs now come to life — can’t hide the blah plot, which is pretty much an excuse to trot out some clever sight gags. Some of them are funny; some of them are spectacular in a CGI kinda way. Too bad the story is neither. ** 1/2

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