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NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

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It's a cute idea: After the sun goes down, all the exhibits in a natural-history museum come to life. Among the nocturnal wanderers: the bones of a T-rex, Teddy Roosevelt, formerly stuffed wild beasts and thousands of tiny Romans and Old West pioneers, at perpetual odds with each other. It's up to the sap of a night guard, here played by the perennially put-upon Ben Stiller, to keep order. (Clue: Know your history.) In defter hands, this might have been an enjoyable semi-fantasy family film. But director Shawn Levy prefers frantic crash-bang humor over sly, and Stiller's peevishness never delivers the wonder the thin plot needs to sustain the museum-is-alive gimmick. Bright spots include the expected special effects, the spectacle of Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan playing teeny-tiny warriors, and The Office's Ricky Gervais as a ... wait for it ... bad boss. Much less welcome: the same buzz-killing tedious lessons about self-worth, family, integrity and so on. (AH)

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