I hadn’t intended to watch Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) all the way through… I’d just put the TV on while I was eating dinner, and figured that was the least terrible option… but then Mindy Kaling appeared in a typically cute and funny cameo as a museum ‘Docent’, and I was hooked, hoping her character would return (she doesn’t). But I’m glad I stuck around, because it gave me the opportunity to appreciate Amy Adams and her enchanting (pun!) portrayal of Amelia Earhart.
For those who don’t know, this pointless sequel finds Ben Stiller playing ‘Larry Daley’, a former security guard, who returns to the New York-based museum where he used to work to discover that many of the exhibits that he befriended in the first movie, when they were brought to life by a magical Egyptian tablet, are being moved to the eponymous institution in Washington. This is a slightly disappointing development for him, but doesn’t really qualify as an emergency until he receives a panicked phone-call from one of his ersatz chums, claiming that they’re being attacked by a revivified Pharaoh, played by Hank Azaria, who has evil plans for the tablet. Blah, blah, blah fishcakes. There’s no point attempting to pick apart the “plot” of this movie, because it doesn’t make any sense (even for a kid’s movie), and it will only annoy me if I waste any more time trying. Suffice to say, Larry teams up with an animated mannequin of Earhart at the Smithsonian, and she’s absolutely adorable. I’ve always been a sucker for feisty tomboy types, so the combination of her can-do attitude with all that old-timey slang really revved my engine. That gal’s got moxie! I guess the flygirl outfit probably helped too, because you’ll be hard-pressed to find many reviews (even the ones written by proper, grown-up professionals) that don’t comment on the ridiculously tight trews that Adams sports throughout this movie. According to the woman herself: “I had to get fit for my costume. I did a lot Pilates and running because when we did our first costume test it was apparent that I was going to be wearing extremely tight, flesh colored, wool pants and there’s just not a lot of room for error.” Bless her. I also dig the hair and the jacket… and the boots… it’s just a great look altogether!
But most of the appeal lies in her devil-may-care, thrill-seeking spirit, so I was rather disappointed at the end of the movie to see her return to the Smithsonian, to spend the rest of her existence as a lonely, lifeless doll. Obviously it would have been difficult for Larry to continue their budding romance, what with her being the fabricated effigy of a deceased historical figure an’ all… but nobody’s perfect, right? Dude didn’t even try to make the relationship work… he just casually tossed her aside, and transferred his affections to the first flesh-and-blood look-alike he met. Tch! True, she was also played by Adams, but she wasn’t nearly as much fun as her dummy doppelganger. Although I can’t say I’m clamouring for another instalment of this series, I’d love to see Adams starring in a quasi-spin-off movie, where she plays Earhart as an Indian Jones-style adventurer, travelling the globe and swashing her buckler… which reminds me, I really must check out The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec some time.
Fun fact: Jane Lynch was cast as another incarnation of Amelia Earhart in The Aviator (2004), but her scenes were cut… and as far as I can tell they weren’t included on the DVD either. Feh.