When the Museum of Natural History is closed for upgrades and renovations, the museum pieces are moved into federal storage at the famous Washington Museums. The centerpiece of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world's largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) flew on her non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone's (Jon Bernthal) rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy's ruby slippers, Fonzie's jacket from Happy Days, the still from M*A*S*H and Archie Bunker's lounge chair from All in the Family. After stealing a security guard's ID badge, Larry (Ben Stiller) slips into the Archives of the Smithsonian, where Kahmunrah, an evil Pharaoh will come to life with the reestablishing of a tablet as a magical force in the museum bringing the old exhibits (Such as Theodore Roosevelt and Dexter) and new exhibits (like General Custer and Al Capone) back to life, and in conflict with each other. Larry enlists the help of Amelia Earheart, who he develops a romantic interest in, and together they try to put everything back in order. -sunshine-161
Two years after Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) defeated the three night guards plotting to steal The Tablet, he is now head of Daley Devices, a company that he founded to manufacture his inventions. These inventions, including the Glow-in-the-Dark Flashlight, were created from his experiences as a former night guard. He finds that the American Museum of Natural History is closed for upgrades and renovations, and some of the museum pieces are being replaced by interactive holograms. The actual exhibits are moved to the Federal Archives at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. On the last night, Larry meets the museum pieces such as Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Rexy the Tyrannosaurus Skeleton, and Dexter the Capuchin Monkey (Crystal the Monkey) and finds out that several exhibits, including Teddy, Rexy, the Easter Island Head (Brad Garrett), and good Pharoah Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) and his Tablet are not moving to The Smithsonian Institution - without the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, the other exhibits will no longer be animated. The next night, Larry gets a call from Jedediah (Owen Wilson), saying that Dexter stole the tablet last midnight and evil Pharaoh Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria), Ahkmenrah's older brother, is attacking them. Larry goes to Washington and visits the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Castle to find the Federal Archives with the help of his son Nick (Jake Cherry). Larry sneaks into the archives and locates the exhibits, frozen in the middle of a battle with Kahmunrah and his troops, who are trying to lock the exhibits in a crate. Larry gets hold of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which had been stolen by Dexter, just when the sun sets and all the exhibits come alive again. Kahmunrah and his troops lock the crate and take the Tablet from Larry, and he tells Larry that bringing the exhibits to life is just one of the tablet's powers - he intends to use it to raise an army from the underworld and conquer the world. Larry escapes with the help of General George Armstrong Custer (Bill Hader), who gets captured, and meets Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams), who is thrilled at the prospect of adventure and accompanies Larry.Larry and Amelia then go through an assortment of paintings and trap Kahmunrah's men in one. Meanwhile, Kahmunrah is able to recruit black and white agent Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), evil Russian emperor Ivan The Terrible (Christopher Guest) and French Ruler/General Napoleon Bonaparte (Alain Chabat) to help him capture Larry in return for sharing the world with him when he conquers it. Custer is locked up with the other exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History, and while he conceives a poor plan of attack (he will scream "Attack!" and the exhibits will jump out and attack), Jedediah and Octavius (Steve Coogan) sneak out to help Larry. Larry and Amelia are captured and taken to Kahmunrah. Kahmunrah then attempts to activate the tablet to open the gates of the underworld by pressing the symbols on the tablet, only to find out that the combination has been changed. He orders Larry to decipher the tablet's riddle and figure out the new combination before sunrise, and traps Jedediah in an hourglass to hasten his attempts. Larry and Amelia consult a bust of Teddy who says that the answer is in the heart of the pharaoh's tomb. The duo then consult The Thinker, but he gets distracted by a beautiful statue of a woman. Finally, at the National Air and Space Museum, they consult a group of Albert Einstein bobbleheads who tell them that the answer to the riddle (and hence the new combination) is pi. Larry and Amelia fly the Wright Flyer back to the Museum of Natural History, and Amelia goes for help while Larry delays Kahmunrah. Capone, Napoleon and Ivan arrive and tell him the code, and he opens the gates of the underworld and summons an army of bird-men. Suddenly, the statue of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial bursts through the window, frightening the bird-men back to the underworld. Amelia arrives, having freed the other exhibits, and Custer orders them to attack. Larry duels Kahmunrah with his flashlight, defeating him and then pushing him through the gate, which banishes him to the underworld forever. Amelia flies Larry and the other exhibits back to the American Museum of Natural History, where Teddy welcomes him back, and Larry assures him he has a way for them to remain there. Larry and Amelia say goodbye and kiss before Amelia flies away, leaving Larry outside the museum. Some time later, it is revealed that Larry sold his company and donated the money to the museum to pay for Audio-Animatronics exhibits - since the museum now opens late, the exhibits can come to life under the guise of animatronically animated exhibits, including Teddy as a tour guide, Ahkmenrah and Dexter displaying the Tablet, and Attila as a storyteller. Larry is rehired at the museum as the night guard, and meets a young woman who looks just like Amelia. The film concludes as they talk and walk off as Larry guides her toward the hall of miniatures. During the credits, a man from a black and white photo of V-J day in Times Square is seen examining Larry's Blackberry cell phone, which Larry left in the photo, and makes a new discovery (for his time period). His mother calls him, and it is revealed that his name is Joey Motorola.
Continuity When Larry first arrives at the Air & Space Museum he sees the twin seat, twin canopy Air Force jet with both aircrew in the cockpits looking at him. Shortly after the aircraft is shown facing the other direction (no aircrew are in the jet) and one is walking on the ground below the aircraft. Not enough time passed for the aircrew to get out of the plane nor for Larry to change his visual perspective of the jet.
Continuity In the first scene that General Custer is announcing his attack plans and asks if there's any questions, he tries to pronounce Sacajawea's name the first time, he is clearly standing on a crate above everyone else. The second time he tries, he is at the same level of everyone else. On his final attempt to pronounce her name, he's back on top of the crate.
Continuity In the scene where Custer is announcing his plan to attack when he yells "attack!" you can see Attila the Hun behind him in a corner of the crate. As he tried to pronounce Sacajewea's name, Attila is behind her. Then, as Custer sits back down, Attila is once again in the corner by Custer.
Continuity When Sacajawea is placed in her crate during the opening credits, she is laying in curly straw, with no white Styrofoam surrounding her. The lid is then put on the crate, however when she bursts out of the crate white Styrofoam is seen exploding out as she lifts the lid.
Continuity As Larry is walking towards the Smithsonian Castle, you see his cell phone on his belt. As he is walking by the Al Capone exhibit near the entrance, his cell phone is gone. Then, as he approaches the Kahmunrah gate, his cell phone is back on his belt.
Continuity When Larry explains to Amelia why he left the job as a night guard he places the tablet on a pillar near Lincoln's statue. Short time later as he is trying to tell Lincoln that he and Amelia are not a couple, he does not have the tablet. As they leave, Larry is holding the tablet without ever picking up the tablet from the pillar.
Continuity Throughout Kahmunrah's conversation with Oscar the Grouch and Darth Vader, a Russian soldier is standing behind Ivan the Terrible's shoulder. However, when the camera flicks back to Kahmunrah as he waves goodbye to Oscar the Grouch and Darth Vader, not only has the soldier disappeared, but visible in the background is Al Capone whose skin is clearly not black and white as it should be.
Continuity During the final battle the tablet is shown as a mirror image (that is, the severed corner is on the right when it has always been on the left).
Continuity Larry's black tie mysteriously disappears somewhere after he shakes hands with the space monkey and arrives at the desk to speak to the Albert Einstein bobbleheads.
Continuity When Larry and Kahmunrah are arguing and Kahmunrah is trying to get the tablet from Larry, and Larry is trying to get the hour glass from Kahmunrah, there are points when no sand is pouring through the hour glass, where according to the position of the hour glass, there should be sand flowing through.
Errors in Geography The quick cuts between scenes in the Air and Space museum, the White House, and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial imply that they are adjacent. However the White House is 1 mile away and the Lincoln Memorial is over 1.6 miles away.
Errors in Geography Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" are at the Art Institute of Chicago. Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker" is at the Musée Rodin in Paris. "Venus Italica" is at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Edgar Degas's ballerina is at the Royal Academy in London. Jeff Koons's "Balloon Dog (Red)" is not part of any museum's collection.
Factual Mistake The Smithsonian Institution does maintain storage for items not on display in the museums but they are located throughout the Washington D.C. suburbs, not in sub basements under the museums.
Factual Mistake The Archives is not part of the Smithsonian Institution. It is also the National Archives, not the "Federal Archives."
Factual Mistake Larry and Amelia Earhart take off in the original 1903 Wright Flyer. This Flyer is only capable of carrying one person. Although they fly it using a stick control, it was actually controlled using a mechanism attached to the pilot's hips whereby he could turn the aircraft by shifting his body from side to side. Also, it no longer hangs from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum, but is in a second floor exhibit hall sitting on the floor.
Factual Mistake The light on top of the Capitol is first shown as on when Larry and Amelia Earhart race to the Air & Space Museum. In later shots it is off. The light is supposed to be lit only on the rare occasion when the House or Senate are in session at night.
Factual Mistake When the giant octopus jumps into the reflecting pond in front of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, it shows him jumping into a pool deep enough that he has to float up a bit to have most of his body above the surface. In fact, the pool is only 30 inches deep at the very center of the pool.
Factual Mistake In the scene where Larry and Amelia are cornered near the painting American Gothic, Larry grabs the pitchfork from inside the picture, but he is shown using a four-pronged pitchfork. The pitchfork in the actual painting is a three-pronged one.
Factual Mistake When the Wrightflyer (the Kitty Hawk) is shown in closeup (scene with Amelia Earheart and Larry flying the plane) you can see that the engine is mounted mirrored to the correct position. The intake and exhaust of the engine was on the pilot-side, not the crankshaft.
Factual Mistake Brandon's security badge he has clipped on his belt has his picture on it but not his name.
Factual Mistake The Wright Flyer and the motorcycle both start and run, showing that they have gasoline. All machines are drained of fuel and the tanks cleaned before they are put on display due to fire danger. Therefore, without fuel, no engine in the museum would run.
Factual Mistake There is no lettering on the outside of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum indicating the name of the museum.
Revealing Mistakes The first Night at the Museum established that if the tiles aren't perfectly flat on the tablet the magic didn't work. When Larry throws the tablet to Amelia Earhart, the tiles are obviously not flat but the magic of the tablet remains.
Revealing Mistakes Jedediah is very small, appearing to be no more than two inches tall. When he is in the hourglass the sand is the incorrect size. To be in proportion to him the sand grains should be almost as large as a basketball.
Revealing Mistakes When the Wright Flyer is flying in the National Air and Space Museum, the timing chain is moving. While outside the chain has stopped moving, although the propellers are still turning. There is nothing in the plot to indicate that they ran out of gas.
Character Error Napoléon Bonaparte speaks with a French accent. It is known that he never had one to speak of, always speaking French (a second language of his) with a Corsican accent, which sounds closer to an Italian accent.
Character Error Custer is portrayed with a southern (perhaps Virginian) accent, but he was from the Ohio-Michigan region. He introduces himself as "General Custer of the 7th U.S. Cavalry," but he was a general only in the 3rd Cavalry, and a lieutenant colonel in the 7th. Finally, far more than "208" Federal soldiers died at the Battle of Little Big Horn.
Character Error Larry calls Able and Dexter "proud Capuchins." Although Dexter is a Capuchin monkey, Able is a Rhesus monkey. (However, Larry is not a monkey expert.)
Character Error Larry tells his son that the Smithsonian Institution is a collection of 19 museums, which is true. However, he also says that they are all located on the National Mall. Some are actually located in New York City, Chantilly in Virginia, and different parts of Washington, D.C. The National Zoo is also part of the Smithsonian group of museums. The National Gallery of Art, though located among the Smithsonian, is not part of the Institution, contrary to the implication in the film.
Character Error Amelia Earhardt refers to the winged statues as "cupids." Cupid was the name of a specific character, a god in Greek mythology. The collective name for winged infantile characters is cherub.
Character Error The WWII Tuskegee airmen are wearing modern USAF flight jackets with Velcro. Although Velcro was invented in 1941, it was not patented and in common use until the 1950s. The same jacket has a 50-star flag patch, but there were not 50 states until 1959, 14 years after WWII ended.
Character Error Amelia Earhart addresses the Tuskegee airman as "Captain", but his captain's bars are not visible.
Character Error In the movie, Wilbur Wright had a mustache while Orville did not. However, Orville Wright was the one that had the mustache, not Wilbur.
The dogfighting World War II era fighters are the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka and Supermarine Spitfire, two famous rival aircraft flown by the Germans and British, respectively.
The fighter jet featured on display is a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter with USAF markings. The real fighter at the museum is a F-104A with NASA markings.
The line that one of the people at the Air and Space Museum said was made up at the end of the last take of that scene,and it's in the movie.
The majority of the film takes place in one night, giving a further meaning to the title "Night at the Museum."
The smoke in the Air and Space Museum was created by crew members.
Director Shawn Levy told a National Public Radio interviewer that once the Smithsonian Institution agreed to lend their name to the film, their curators were very helpful and willing to share information about the real-life characters represented in the movie, but Levy had more trouble with the intellectual property-holders for the fictional characters represented. For instance, in the Darth Vader cameo, a LucasFilm employee came on set to observe the scene and tell the filmmakers what Vader would or wouldn't do.
Amelia says in the movie that she became a pilot for "the fun of it," the title of a 1932 autobiography by the real Amelia Earhart.
When first introduced to Napoleon and Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible says his title is mistranslated, and he calls himself Ivan the Awesome. Although obviously meant to be a comical line, it is not that far from the truth: Ivan's title is indeed a bad translation. A more accurate form of the original Russian term, Ivan Grozny, is "Ivan the Fearsome", "the Magnificent" or "The Admirable". It is important to emphasize that, in Russian, the word "grozny" does not have a bad connotation.
Hank Azaria filmed test scenes (some of which are on the DVD) of his character Kahmunrah with various accents including American Southerner (from Alabama) and English Cockney, before settling on an upper-class British accent marred by a humorous lisp.
Hank Azaria modeled his voice and the lisp after Boris Karloff from his performance in the original The Mummy (1932). Karloff had a small but noticeable lisp.
The first movie ever filmed in the Smithsonian Institution.
Amy Adams hated having to wear the skin tight pants that her character wore because it showed off her behind.
The original combination for Ahkmenrah's Tablet is 12351235657923.
The Smithsonian does host a giant squid exhibit, but this was forgone for a giant octopus in the film. For some reason, however, the film's marketing in Japan (where the difference between a squid and an octopus is common knowledge) consistently referred to the octopus as a "squid," even though it is never directly identified as either animal in the film.
Reese Witherspoon was originally set to play Amelia Earhart.
It's the ninth film with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson after The Cable Guy (1996), Permanent Midnight (1998), Meet the Parents (2000), Zoolander (2001), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Starsky & Hutch (2004), Meet the Fockers (2004) and Night at the Museum (2006).
The motorcycle that Larry uses as a getaway vehicle is a rare 1942 Harley Davidson XA Military Side Valve 750cc Flat Twin with attached sidecar. This was Harley's copy of the German BMW/Zundapp military motorcycles.
Octavius's line, "Stay alive! I will find you!" before jumping off the windowsill is a reference to Daniel Day-Lewis line in The Last of the Mohicans (1992) where Lewis's character says the same thing before jumping off a cliff.
Hank Azaria and Ben Stiller had previously appeared together in Mystery Men (1999), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) and Along Came Polly (2004).
The following actors appear in both this movie and The Office (2001) and/or The Office (2005): Ricky Gervais, Mindy Kaling, Amy Adams, Craig Robinson, and Ed Helms.
Jake Cherry and Jay Baruchel were both in The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010) as the character "Dave" at different ages.
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