Night at the Museum

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Night at the Museum
Night at the Museum poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Shawn Levy
Produced by
Screenplay by Thomas Lennon
Robert Ben Garant
Based on The Night at the Museum 
by Milan Trenc
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Don Zimmerman
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • December 22, 2006 (2006-12-22)
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $110 million
Box office $574,480,841[1]

Night at the Museum is a 2006 American fantasy adventure-comedy film based on the 1993 children's book of the same name by Milan Trenc. It follows a divorced father trying to settle down, impress his son, and find his destiny. He applies for a job as a night watchman at New York City's American Museum of Natural History and subsequently discovers that the exhibits, animated by a magical Egyptian artifact, come to life at night.

Released on December 22, 2006 by 20th Century Fox, which presented in A 1492 Pictures/21 Laps Entertainment Production in association with Ingenious Film Partners, the film was written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon of Comedy Central's Reno 911! and MTV's The State and produced and directed by Shawn Levy. Also producing for 1492 Pictures were Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan. The film stars Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, Jake Cherry, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, and Robin Williams. A novelization of the screenplay by Leslie Goldman was published as a film tie-in.

The first film in the film series, Night at the Museum was followed by a sequel titled Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which was released on May 22, 2009 and the third film Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb will be released on December 19, 2014.


Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced father living in Brooklyn in need of immediate employment after many failed business ventures. He resents that his son Nick (Jake Cherry) wants to be a bond trader like his step-father, Don (Paul Rudd), and has given up his dream of being a professional hockey player. Larry's ex-wife, Erica (Kim Raver), feels that Larry is a bad influence on their son. After reviewing Larry's unpromising résumé, Debbie, an employment counselor (played by Stiller's real-life mother, Anne Meara), sends him to the American Museum of Natural History where there is an opening for a nighttime security guard position. Larry learns from the head security guard, Cecil Fredericks (Dick Van Dyke), that because of recent financial troubles, the museum plans to replace Cecil and two veteran guards – Gus (Mickey Rooney) and Reginald (Bill Cobbs) – with a single guard.

Once Larry accepts the position, he discovers that the museum exhibits come to life at dusk, including a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (named Rexy) who behaves like a dog and fetches one of its own ribs; Neanderthals trying to make fire; and a gum-loving Easter Island Moai (voiced by Brad Garrett). After being chased through the museum by the Huns and their leader Attila, Larry encounters Dexter (Crystal), a fun-loving but mischievous capuchin monkey who steals Larry's museum keys and tears up his instruction manual. When Dexter bites Larry and urinates on him, he finally snaps and decides not to return the following night. In frustration, Larry attempts to break up a fight between the Ancient Roman and Wild West dioramas, led by Octavius (Steve Coogan) and Jedidiah (Owen Wilson) respectively.

Larry eventually learns from Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams) why the museum comes to life at night. He informs Larry that, ever since an Egyptian artifact—the Golden Tablet of Pharaoh Akhmenrah—came to the museum in 1952, all of the exhibits have come to life each night. Roosevelt also warns that if any exhibits are outside of the museum at sunrise, they turn to dust. He promises to help Larry this one time to restore order to the museum. After promising Nick a tour of the museum, Larry decides to stay on as the new night guard. However, he has trouble explaining to museum director Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) why some of the miniature figurines have been misplaced.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed, on Cecil's advice, Larry studies history to prepare himself better. He also learns a few things from a museum docent, Rebecca Hutman (Carla Gugino), who is writing a dissertation on Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck) but does not feel she knows enough about her subject.

The next night, Larry uses what he has learned to better control the exhibits – getting Rexy to chase after his rib pulled by a remote control car, giving the Neanderthals a cigarette lighter to build a fire; giving the Easter Island head a huge wad of chewing gum to appease it and keep him more quiet; tricking Dexter with a set of toy keys; and making a truce between the dioramas. Even with this new-found confidence, however, things go awry when his attempt at winning over Atilla (Patrick Galagher) with cheap magic tricks fails, the dioramas continue fighting despite their agreement with Larry, and Dexter is able to steal Larry's keys again and let out all of the animal exhibits. The Neanderthals set fire to a display that Larry is able to put out, but one turns to dust when he leaves the museum at dawn. The incident with the now-missing Neanderthal causes Dr. McPhee to fire Larry, but Larry begs for one more chance. Nick in the meanwhile overhears this conversation along with his friends. The same day Larry tells Rebecca that the exhibits come to life at night, but she believes that he is mocking her and the museum, and leaves him.

Larry brings Nick to the museum to show him the exhibits, but none are alive. They investigate and catch Cecil, Gus, and Reginald in the act of stealing the tablet and other valuable objects. Like the exhibits, the guards receive enhanced vitality from the artifact; wishing to retain their health and fund their retirements, the three plan to frame Larry for the thefts, and disabled the tablet to stop the exhibits from interfering. Nick reactivates the tablet, but Cecil locks him and his father in the Egyptian room and flees with the tablet. They try to convince Theodore Roosevelt to help, but reveals that he's just an exhibit and can't help at all.

Larry releases the Akhmenrah's (Rami Malek) mummy from his sarcophagus, and the pharaoh helps Larry and Nick escape by ordering the two giant statues in the room to break down the door. The three find the other exhibits fighting all over the lobby, and after getting their attention with some help from the Easter Island head, Larry convinces them to work together. Although some of the exhibits capture Gus and Reginald without difficulty, Cecil escapes by stagecoach after Jedediah, Octavius, and their men cause his van to crash. Larry, Nick, Akmenrah, Jedediah, Octavius, Attila, and Rexy pursuit him in Central Park, where they stop him and regain possession of the tablet, but Jedediah and Octavius's car crashes into a pile of snow, presembly killing them. Akmenrah uses his tablet to command the exhibits to head back to the museum. While in a taxicab, Rebecca sees the exhibits return to the museum before sunrise and realizes that Larry was telling the truth; she enters the museum, and he introduces her to Sacagawea and Jedediah and Octavius revealed to have survived the crash.

Dr. McPhee fires Larry again due to the chaos during the night, but rehires him when news reports of the strange events around the museum—such as cave paintings in the museum's subway station, Tyrannnosaurus rex footprints in Central Park leading to the museum, and cavemen sightings—raise attendance. Larry, Nick, and the exhibits celebrate. As an epilogue Larry uses his invention, the snapper, to shut off his flashlight.

During the credits, Gus, Reginald, and Cecil are forced to work as janitors in order to avoid going to jail.



The building featured in the film, which was constructed on a sound stage in Burnaby, British Columbia, is based on the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, external shots of which were used in the movie.[2]

Trainers spent several weeks training Crystal, who plays the troublemaking monkey Dexter, to slap and bite Stiller in the film.

Robin Williams' Theodore Roosevelt costume closely resembles that of John Wayne's character in The Shootist. [3]

Director Shawn Levy credited Ben Stiller for the ensemble cast: "When actors hear that Ben Stiller is in a movie they want to work with him. It['s] a high-water mark and it absolutely draws actors in and I'm convinced that's a big part of why we got this cast."[4]

Cinematic allusion[edit]

In the 1939 German film "Salonwagen E 417" (i.e. Royal Train E417) by Paul Verhoeven with music by Giuseppe Becce the exhibits in a museum also come to life at night.



Ben Stiller claimed that he watched Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible films to learn how to imitate his running technique, shown here as Stiller portraying his film character running for dear life from the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton (Rexy).[4]
  • "Friday Night" - performed by McFly; not featured in American version of the film, but heard in some international cuts, used during the end credits. It can be heard on the American DVD on the Spanish dub.
  • "September" - performed by Earth, Wind and Fire; used before the end credits where everyone in the museum is partying.
  • "Weapon of Choice" - performed by Fatboy Slim; used in the scene where Larry returns to the museum for his second night and is preparing for the chaos.
  • "Tonight" - performed by Keke Palmer and Cham; used for the end credits (U.S. theatrical version only).
  • "Eye of the Tiger" - performed by Ben Stiller; used in the scene where Larry is bored and messes around with the telephone at the front desk beatboxing the music.
  • An instrumental version of "Mandy" by Barry Manilow is used when Larry is standing in the elevator, while escaping from Attila the Hun.
  • "Ezekiel Saw Them Dry Bones" is the tune Larry whistles as he passes the empty T. Rex exhibit on his first night.
  • "Camptown Races" by Stephen Foster is sung by the townspeople of the American West miniature diorama. This is a period-correct song.


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from movie critics, receiving a 44% rating from critics, meaning "rotten" at Rotten Tomatoes and a 48/100 rating on Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews.[5] James Berardinelli of Reelviews gave it 2 stars out of 4, and commented on Stiller's performance by stating "It might be fair to give Ben Stiller an 'A' for effort, but to call what he does in this movie "acting" is a misnomer. He does a lot of running around, occasionally falling down or bumping into things."[6] One positive review by William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, gave it a B-, and stated that the film was "Out to impress and delight a family audience with the pageantry of human and natural history, and that's a surprisingly worthy ambition for a Hollywood comedy."[7] In a case of life imitating art, museum officials at the American Museum of Natural History have credited the film for increasing the number of visitors during the holiday season by almost 20%. According to a museum official, between December 22, 2006, and January 2, 2007, there were 50,000 more visitors than during the same period the prior year.[8]

Box office[edit]

Night at the Museum was the highest grossing film in its opening weekend, grossing $30.8 million in 3,685 theaters. For the four-day Christmas holiday weekend, it took in $42.2 million.[1] The movie was also released in IMAX large screen format, often on site at museums of science or natural history such as the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

In its second weekend, Night at the Museum expanded into eighty-three more theaters and took in approximately $37.8 million at the box-office, out-grossing its opening weekend. It maintained its #1 position in its third week, with an additional $24 million. In total, as of Monday, April 30, 2007, the film had grossed $571,069,550: $250,224,440 in the U.S. and Canada, and $320,845,110 in the rest of the world.[9]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on a 2-Disc DVD edition in the United Kingdom on April 2, 2007. It was released on 1-Disc and 2-Disc DVD editions and Blu-ray Disc format on April 24, 2007 elsewhere.

The film became the first non-Disney film to be reviewed by Ultimate Disney, due to the website dealing with other studios besides Disney.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b "Night at the Museum (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  2. ^ "". Night at the Museum Filming Locations. Retrieved January 8, 2007. 
  3. ^ Classic Movies. "John Wayne: one last shot before the final farewell". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  4. ^ a b "". Stiller shifts to the Museum. Retrieved January 8, 2007. 
  5. ^ "". Night at the Museum (2006). Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ "". Night at the Museum. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  7. ^ Arnold, William (December 21, 2006). "". Shallow 'Museum' exhibits some appealing qualities. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  8. ^ "". Movie boosts Natural History Museum visits. Retrieved September 11, 2007. 
  9. ^ Box Office Mojo - Movie Index, A-Z[dead link]
  10. ^ "". Non-Disney films to be reviewed by Ultimate Disney. Retrieved April 20, 2007. 
  11. ^ "". "Night at the Museum" at Retrieved April 24, 2007. 

External links[edit]