NOTE: Another great spoiler sent in by P.D. Chambliss. who says... "A fun adventure for the entire family to enjoy”
Night at the Museum stars Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, a museum guard at the Museum of Natural History. Larry is a good-natured, free-spirited guy who just hasn’t found success or stable employment in life. To top it off, Larry is struggling to maintain a relationship with his son, Nick (Jake Cherry) after a divorce. Larry’s ex-wife Erica (Kim Raver) has remarried and the new step-dad has taken Nick under his wing. The stepdad’s influence on Nick is gradually increasing and Larry begins to look like a loser with a capital “L” (Nick once enjoyed playing hockey with his dad but after visiting his stepdad’s office, Nick wants to become a Bond trader. 10 year old Nick refers to this as his “fallback” plan after seeing his stepdad in action). Thus, a rivalry has started in order to get Nick’s attention and affection.
In an effort to obtain stable employment and maintain contact with his son, Larry visits a job-placement service (hilarious scene). Larry is told by the job placement counselor “I’ve never seen a resume like yours”. Larry takes this as a compliment which is not. Larry tells the job placement counselor “I invented the SNAPPER but someone invented the CLAPPER which went on to make money”! Larry basically has a history of being a failure. Larry explains his situation (says he really needs employment). The job placement counselor gives Larry a referral to the Museum of Natural History stating the night guards keep leaving (important later).
Larry arrives at the museum and is greeted by a pretty docent named Rebecca (Carla Gugino). Rebecca is working on her dissertation regarding the life of Sacajawea the Native American guide who lead Lewis and Clark on expeditions (important later). Rebecca gives tours to patrons and knows a great deal about the museum’s artifacts.
Rebecca introduces Larry to Mr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais), the head of the Museum. Mr. McPhee is a pretty uptight guy. He doesn’t like patrons touching the artifacts and he dislikes chaos so he threatens to fire anyone who cannot maintain order in the museum at night (important later).
After meeting Mr. McPhee, Larry gets to meet the night guards Gus, Cecil and Reginald (veteran actors Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs steal the show)! Gus, Cecil and Reginald introduce Larry to the museum and leave Larry with two things : an instruction booklet and the words “don’t let anything IN OR OUT OF THE MUSEUM!!”
Larry begins his first night on the job. Larry amuses himself by singing songs over the museum’s loud speaker (Rocky’s Eye of the Tiger) until he falls asleep. When Larry wakes up, he goes to get a drink of water from the museum fountain and discovers a dinosaur is there getting a drink! Larry screams and begins to run but the dinosaur begins to chase him. Larry ducks for cover behind the museum desk and calls Cecil for help on the telephone. It turns out Cecil is at a party along with Gus and Reginald and many younger women and having a good time (important later)! Larry tells Cecil what is happening at the museum and Cecil is not surprised and tells Larry “to read the instruction book”.
Larry reads the instruction book and Rule #1 says “throw the bone”. Larry grabs a big bone from a dinosaur and throws it! The dinosaur chases the bone. It turns out the dinosaur is harmless…he just like to play chase-the-bone like a dog. In addition, Larry meets the museum’s historical figures who come to life at night: Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Attila the Hun, Roman leader Octavius, leader of the wild west Jed (Owen Wilson), and an Easter Island Statue (who spends his time insulting Larry with the words “Dum Dum…give me gum gum”)! Larry also finds out about the museum’s “politics”. Larry discovers Teddy Roosevelt has been in love with Sacajawea for years but has never spoken to her. In addition, Larry discovers Jed and Octavius have had a long-time rivalry.
As the sun sets each evening, all of the museum’s inhabitants come to life and run wild. However, as the sun rises, all of the museum’s inhabitants return to their display cases. Mr. McPhee arrives in the morning to see some of the wild west men in the display cases have captured Octavius and placed him in the stockade (Jed and Octavius have a long-standing rivalry…they’re both leaders and they figure the world is only big enough for one of them)! Mr. McPhee gets angry thinking Larry spent his time as the night watchman tampering with the displays and threatens to fire Larry.
Larry confronts Cecil regarding the museum’s secret. Cecil says if he had told the truth, Larry would not have believed Cecil. Larry decides the job isn’t for him and leaves the museum. As Larry is leaving, Nick makes an unexpected visit to the museum. Larry decides he can’t quit just yet and asks to return to work. Cecil is happy to let Larry return. Cecil gives Larry a bit of advice “read all about the museum’s subjects at the library”.
Larry takes the advice well and spends time visiting the library for books and visiting the web. Larry returns to the museum the following night a highly-equipped man. When the Neanderthals start running around the museum and attempt to start fire, Larry tosses them a cigarette lighter. Larry solves other problems the same way: the Easter Island Statue gets a large supply of gum, a monkey who enjoys stealing keys gets a set of plastic baby keys, and Attila the Hun gets a hug and begins to cry (Larry read psychology books which explained why Attila was such a bully conquering many people)! Larry believes Attila just needs a hug.
The sun rises again and all of the museum’s inhabitants go to their display cases. The museum is in disarray again and Mr. McPhee threatens to fire Larry once more. Larry apologizes (knowing he didn’t do anything wrong…the museum’s inhabitants came to life again and destroyed the museum) and gets another chance. This is why the museum cannot keep guards the guards keep getting blamed for the museum’s disarray every morning although they’ve done nothing…and the guards get fired or resign.
Larry decides to invite Nick to spend the evening with him at the museum. Larry’s ex-wife had threatened to suspend visitation but Larry tells her he has a fantastic surprise for Nick and Nick will not be disappointed.
Nick comes to the museum and waits for his dad’s shift to begin. Larry is talking to Rebecca who laments on how she needs more information on Sacajawea for her research paper. Larry hesitates but then invites Rebecca to stay at the museum (knowing Sacajawea will come to life and Rebecca can talk to Sacajawea and get the information needed for the paper). Rebecca becomes offended thinking Larry is making fun of her and leaves. Larry stays at the museum with Nick and waits until sunset.
At sunset, the museum does not come to life as usual. Larry realizes something is wrong and goes to the security office. Larry discovers Gus, Cecil and Reginald are already in the office and they’re stealing artifacts (including a special golden tablet). In addition, Larry is being framed for the thefts. It turns out the tablet has special powers which enable those who control it to experience youth again. In addition, the tablet makes the objects come to life in the museum. Larry tries to take the tablet away from Gus (the smallest of the three guards). Gus easily defeats Larry with slinky, cat-like karate moves and escapes with the others taking the tablet.
Larry decides he needs help and goes to Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), the Egyptian Pharaoh, and releases him from his mummy’s case. Larry discovers the tablet brought the museum’s inhabitants alive on the night Ahkmenrah arrived at the museum and every night since the arrival.
Larry asks for Akhmenrah’s help and tells Akhmenrah the tablet has been stolen. Larry and Akhmenrah go to the center of the museum to speak with all of the inhabitants to formulate a plan. The inhabitants are too busy having their own conversations to listen…So the Easter Island Statue yells in order to get everyone’s attention (Quiet down…my dum dum has something to say!) Hilarious!
Larry explains the situation and gets help from the dinosaur, Sacajawea, Jed and Octavius, and Teddy Roosevelt who provides Larry with lessons on leadership. There is one special rule: the museum’s inhabitants must track down Gus, Cecil and Reginald and return to the museum or the inhabitants will turn into dust the moment sun rises. With this knowledge, the museum’s inhabitants work quickly to find the bad guards.
Using the tracking and navigation skills which helped Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea follows footprints and discovers the Gus, Cecil and Reginald crashed their getaway truck. Jed and Octavius order their men to attack at the right time and tie Gus, Cecil and Reginald up with rope. Akhmenrah, who is gifted in languages since he “spent time at Cambridge” tells Attila it’s okay to torture the bad guards but only a little bit (Attila is still working on recovery and needs hugs)! Larry works to round up all of the museum’s inhabitants before sunrise.
As Larry rounds up the inhabitants, Rebecca is taking a taxicab to work and sees the museum’s inhabitants walking back to the museum. Rebecca now believes Larry is telling the truth about the museum coming to life.
Mr. McPhee arrives and has a fit after seeing the museum in disarray. To make matters worse, tv news stations are reporting cave drawings in subway stations and showing video footage of neanderthals partying on top of local buildings. The neanderthals are holding up fire like they’re at a rock concert (with the U.S. flag flying in the background). Mr. McPhee is outraged and fires Larry. Larry hands over his keys and Mr. McPhee escorts Larry to the museum lobby AND DISCOVERS THE LOBBY IS PACKED WITH VISITORS! Mr. McPhee has never seen such a crowd of people take an interest in the museum and is speechless. Mr. McPhee attributes the overwhelming public interest to Larry (thinking Larry pulled a practical joke) when the neanderthals were solely responsible. Mr. McPhee gives Larry his keys and flashlight again extending the night watchman job yet again…
Night falls and the museum comes alive again. The inhabitants have a big celebration. Teddy Roosevelt finally declares his love for Sacajawea, Rebecca gets her interview, and Nick thinks his dad is the coolest guy on the planet.
THE END…As the credits roll, we see Gus, Cecil and Reginald have cleanup duty at the museum as punishment for trying to steal artifacts!
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