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The real stars of Shawn Levy’s family comedy Night at the Museum are easy to identify with: From 9 to 5, they’re working-class stiffs. If only Levy’s leading man were less, well, stiff. After hastily establishing the precarious relationship between the well-meaning-but-down-on-his-luck Larry (Ben Stiller) and his young son, the film’s protagonist is thrust into the role of night watchman at the American Museum of Natural History. Of course, the three recently downsized guards Larry is replacing forget to mention that when the sun goes down, the museum’s inhabitants come to life. Before Larry even has a chance to screw up on his own, the museum is overrun by a rowdy bunch of animated statues, wax sculptures, and dinosaur skeletons. It’s a clunky setup made all the more awkward by Stiller’s strained performance and Levy’s clumsy direction: Once the premise’s initial charm wears off, Larry spends a good portion of the film aimlessly engaging and attempting to placate his new charges. Co-screenwriters Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon III, who have previously worked together writing and acting in The State and Reno 911!, have yet to learn how to properly pace a full-length film or develop a father–son relationship. They do, however, know how to give the supporting members of an ensemble cast memorable personalities. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan quickly steal the spotlight as the respective leaders of warring factions of cowboy and Roman-soldier miniatures, whose larger-than-life ambitions of territorial conquest are fueled by a raging set of Napoleon complexes. Yet the film’s most endearing performance is also its most surprising: Robin Williams—who, after a string of one-dimensional roles in disappointing family comedies, has become one of the most annoying on-screen personas in Hollywood—portrays Theodore Roosevelt with a bravado that belies the character’s sense of self-doubt. When Larry beseeches the sculpture for help after thieves make off with a mystical Egyptian tablet, Teddy reminds him, “I’m made of wax, Larry,” before asking, “What are you made of?” It’s a question that predictably gives rise to Larry’s acceptance of his responsibilities, but it also hints at his cohorts’ depth of character. These are, after all, not the actual historical figures themselves—they’re re-creations, keenly aware of what they are and happy to play their roles for the museumgoers by day so long as they have their freedom at night. In the end, their plight is more interesting than Larry’s, and Levy would have been better served by developing their personalities and the magical rules that govern their existence than waxing the age-old tale of a father earning his son’s admiration.