When I was in primary school, my favourite book was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. The book is about two kids who run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
For about 20 years I forgot the name of the book and did a lot of trying to find it. Eventually I posted a question somewhere on the web and received the name of the book as the answer, so I ordered it and settled in to revisit an old favourite. It was just as great as I remembered it to be.
Growing up my Grandma – Granny as we called her – would take us on the tram to Adelaide. From there we would catch the beeline bus to North Terrace and visit one of two places – the South Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of South Australia. Sometimes we would go down to the River Torrens and catch Popeye around to the Adelaide Zoo. For many years these were my favourite places in the entire world.
Whenever we visited the Museum, I would imagine what I would do if I was able to take up residence there. We spent a lot of time in the room full of rocks and minerals and all the cabinets were locked – maybe if I lived there, I could find the key and open up those cabinets.
Ahkmenrah attempts to broker a peace between Larry and Attila The Hun
So it came to me as a surprise that I somehow had missed out on the awesomeness of the Night at the Museum movies. I discovered them thanks to my present fan obsession – Rami Malek is in the movies as the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah.
The storyline goes a little like this – Larry (Ben Stiller) gets a job as the night guard in the American Museum of Natural History. Unknown to most of the world, the museum contains a magical tablet which makes all the exhibits spring to life at sundown. If they are outside when the sun rises, they will turn to dust, so it is important that the night guard keeps everyone *in* as well as keeping other people out.
Robin Williams is in all 3 films and the final film was one of four not yet released at the time of his death. While my favourite Robin Williams role will always be John Keating from Dead Poets Society, followed of course by Mrs Doubtfire, this role is in third place, for me anyway. I also loved that he spent a lot of time on a horse.
Part of the fun of the following movies is the new historical characters appearing plus the new locations. Movie 2 has Amy Adams as Amelia Earheart and Hank Azaria is hilarious as the very angry Egyptian raised from the dead. I thought the second was the best of the films – Amy Adams was so fantastic in it.
Movie 3 has Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot and Rebel Wilson as a British museum security guard. Plus Hugh Jackman makes an appearance. But beware, this movie you might need to BYO tissue box.
Rami Malek is incredibly believable as the Pharaoh Ahkmenrah. For much of the first movie, he is locked in his sarcophagus desperately trying to get out, and there is a level of fear created around his being able to escape. But when he is eventually released towards the end of the movie, he is just delightful and not scary at all. Sadly he is missing for a lot of the second movie, but in the third he is present for most of the movie.
It should be made clear that I am not usually a Ben Stiller fan but I did enjoy him in these movies. I think the biggest problem for me, with him, is he seems like he is about to burst out laughing the entire time he is on the screen. Kind of like Jerry Seinfeld who just never could keep a poker face.
If you watch the out-takes, he does laugh a lot. But then again how could you not laugh at Ricky Gervais and Robin Williams? And Jerry had to contend with 3 very funny people but worst of all, Julia Louis Dreyfus. There are lots of Seinfeld bloopers on youtube.
If you have not seen these movies and you love a museum and/or historical figures, you will probably deeply love these movies. When people talk about movie magic, I think they are talking about movies exactly like these. :)
Over To You –
Which historical figure would you want to bring back to life and talk to? What would you do if you could live inside a museum or art gallery? What museum would you most like to take the magical tablet to?
Here are the trailers for all 3 Night at the Museum movies.