Well, the Hollywood sequel monster wouldn’t allow that to happen again in this second go-around, choosing instead to go the "bigger, louder, faster" route. Stiller’s son is pretty much absent in this one, to make room for more “colorful” characters like a bunch of goofy bobblehead Einsteins, a horny Thinker statue with a borderline racist Italian accent, and of course another cute monkey to join everyone's favorite…but this one's different you see…this time he’s wearing a space suit! Oh and those classic polished marble floors and beautiful exhibits in the Natural History museum of the first film? Replaced by the dusty vaults and cluttered modern showrooms of the Smithsonian- most of which was actually shot on green-screen. Blah.
The problem with this film is that, unlike the original, there’s absolutely zero appreciation for history in this flick. Stiller and the film’s dozens of characters run amok smashing priceless heirlooms and causing millions upon millions of dollars damage and making a hell of a lot of noise, all the while not a single alarm goes off, not a single police officer appears. Hell, we don’t even see a single security guard after nightfall, which is ironic seeing as the entire premise behind the first film revolved around night security guards. I don’t mean to harp on this but seriously, not a single camera or security guard protecting our nation’s greatest treasures?!
All that aside, the film also suffers by trying to retain all of its original cast, while adding at least a dozen new ones. It results in a lack of depth for any of the characters and minimal screen time for each. To make things worse, if this movie is to be believed, all our famous historical figures were morons and pop culture junkies. Einstein says things like “That’s the way uh huh uh huh I like it!” and Ivan the Terrible (sadly under-utilized Christopher Guest) tells us he’s actually called ‘Ivan the Awesome’.
Hank Azaria as the villain Kahmunrah decides to ham it up and go for laughs instead of chills, which was a wise decision, as he’s one of the few consistently funny people in this flick. Amy Adams is the female lead as a Ben Stiller-obsessed Amelia Earhart, and while she doesn’t deliver many laughs, she comes off as charming and sweet as always. The rest of the new additions are pretty impressive, with the likes of Jay Baruchel, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill and Alain Chabat joining the cast, but again, none of them get more than 5 minutes of screen-time.
And what about Stiller you say? Well, he’s surprisingly restrained here too. There are just way too many eggs in this film’s basket, resulting in a scrambled mess. When oh when is Hollywood going to realize that bigger does not always equal better? Even the title of this film is exhausting to look at.
Historical Confessions: Famous Last Words (6:29) - General Custer, Al Capone, and Napoleon shoot the shit with the camera. Probably woulda been funnier if they were all in the room together. Bill Hader is funnier here than in the movie.
Directing 201: A Day in the Life of director Shawn Levy (19:19) - As much as I don’t feel like Shawn Levy is the most talented director in the business, it’s impressive what he’s able to undertake here, and this is a fantastic featurette for aspiring filmmakers. If only they had this on Spielberg or PT Anderson DVDs.
Caveman Conversations: Survival of the Wittiest (4:18) - The three unfunny cavemen from the film sit in front of the camera and grunt for over 4 minutes- literally. This is excruciating.
Museum Magic: Entering the World of the Photograph (5:41) - The making of the WWII celebration scene. Cool to see the before and after VFX shots here.
Secret Doors and Scientists (15:58) - A behind the scenes tour of the American Museum of Natural History, which is where the first film (and part of this one) take place. More educational than fun.
Phinding Pharoah (4:50) - A featurette about legendary voice actor Hank Azaria trying to find the right voice for his character in the film.
Show Me the Monkey Featurettes (17:59) - Three segments about the monkey in the two films (two in real life) that apparently everyone is obsessed with. Not as interesting or funny as you’d think. I just have one question; if these things are so damn smart, why do they gotta wear diapers?
The Jonas Brothers in Cherub Bootcamp (3:53) - It is actually kind of funny how unfunny these kids are. I didn’t even realize they were in this film, but now I like this movie even less.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (26:44) - You get twelve of them here, with optional commentary from Shawn Levy. You know the drill. They shoulda used Jonah Hill more.
Gangster Levy (1:57) - My roommate just told me he’s starting to get sick of this Levy character, and I’m starting to agree. This pretty much pointless ‘featurette’ is just more self-promotion.
Gag Reel (8:10) - Ricky Gervais has the most amazing laugh in the history of laughter. Damn I am just full of opinions today.
Fox Movie Channel: Making a Scene (9:36) - Discusses the making of the airplane launch scene. More Shawn Levy tooting his own horn. They have one interview clip of Clint Howard which they inexplicably play twice.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere (5:29) - A few minutes spent interviewing the actors at the premiere, which was held at the Smithsonian. You gotta be a REAL big fan of the movie to still be watching at this point.
You get two Feature Commentary Tracks, one by director Shawn Levy and the other by writers Thomas Lennon and Robert Garant, along with a handful of trailers and a Scavenger Hunt mode where you can play a little game while you watch the flick.
You also get a Digital Copy for your computer, and a even a DVD, so you can truly play NATM2 anywhere and everywhere you go. Neato.