Being A Dad

I was never a big Ben Stiller fan.  I can appreciate his talent but always found him to be a bit unlikable on screen. Oddly enough, that wasn't the case with the second installment of the Night at the Museum franchise and I think that's part of the reason I prefer the sequel to the original.  

Another reason is the supporting cast.  I love Dick Van Dyke (one of the villains in the first movie), but he didn't have a lot to do and was absent for most of the film.  The MVP of Smithsonian has got to be Hank Azaria.  Playing the main heavy, Kahmunrah, with an accent borrowed from Boris Karloff along with providing the voices of The Thinker and Abe Lincoln, Azaria really delivers.  His scene with a certain green muppet and a black cloaked bad guy is hysterical.  

Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan, returning as miniatures brought to life, are very funny as is Bill Hader as a crazed General Custer.  I can never tell Amy Adams and Amy Ryan apart but I can assure you one of them is in this movie playing a fast talking Amelia Earhart (I almost said whip-smart, but I can't stand that phrase).   And while Jonah Hill might already be overstaying his 15 minutes of fame, his scene here with Stiller is pretty strong.  

The only disappointment is the usually dependable Christopher Guest has absolutely nothing to do here as Ivan the Terrible.  Oh, and the Jonas Brothers make an appearance but it's brief so no real harm done.  

I can't say I'm looking forward to Night at the Museum: Brunch at the Whitney (in 3D), but as long as this one stays in heavy rotation at our house, I can't complain.  

We rented this DVD late last week and Jackson has already watched it start to finish three times.  So I think it's safe to say it gets a healthy thumbs up from him.  

I wanted to see the film when it was in the theaters but like so many other releases over the past few years, we missed it.  So one night after everyone went to sleep, I watched it and loved it.  

I never read the book (written by Roald Dahl) so I can't speak to how faithful an adaptation it is, but I definitely recognize Dahl's trademark darkness as well as his fascination for pretty despicable human beings.  The other major element at work here is the director Wes Anderson, who has a healthy bag of idiosyncrasies of his own. I happen to be a fan of Anderson's films but of course your mileage may vary.  

The film stars George Clooney, perfectly cast as Mr. Fox, and Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox. Jason Schwartzman, who I sometimes like, sometimes don't, is great here as their son Ash.  Other standouts include Wally Wolodarsky as Kylie, Eric Anderson as Kristofferson and Michael Gambon as the hideously evil Mr. Bean.  

Completing the experience is an old school stop motion animation reminiscent of the old Davey and Goliath show and a great soundtrack that includes the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Bobby Fuller Four and Burl Ives.

There are a couple of scenes that are pretty intense, including the killing of some animals, so keep that in mind if your kids are sensitive to that sort of thing (as opposed to the kids who relish it, I suppose).