Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

We just got back from watching this as a family. We don’t go to the movies much anymore because of the cost but with the long weekend, we went as a special treat. All of us are big fans of the first one. It is one of those movies that we could watch over and over again. There is just something that appeals to all of us. For me, it is the historical characters that come to life for the kids. Now, I am not saying that this movie is incredibly historically accurate. What I am saying is that anytime my kids think of Easter Island, they know right away what the statues look like (and of course say, “You bring me gum gum, dumb dumb?). But, nonetheless they know what Easter Islandahutongariki is. The first movie brought to life Christopher Columbus, Attila the Hun, and a host of other historical figures. I wish that I had taken some time prior to going today though to do some research on the historical figures in Battle of the Smithsonian.

Some were obvious and needed no introduction to the kids, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Amelia Earhart. But there were some people and objects that if the kids would have more background information on it might have added to their enjoyment.

Below is a list of what I wish I would have pre-taught so that maybe you can be more prepared than me:

  • 250px-the_thinker_closeThe Thinker by Rodin- the boys have been doing this little “UH, UH, Fire Power” all week (think gun show with the arms). It comes from a part in the movie when The Thinker gets up and does a ‘gun show’. They probably would have understood the sarcasm of The Thinker being portrayed as a dumb jock if they knew more about the subject.
  • Al Capone-My boys don’t know much about the Italian Mafia. They really had a hard time understanding any of the parts with them.
  • Napoleon-Great reference in the movie to what a Napoleon complex is. Boys will probably easily remember now what that phrase means.
  • Ivan the Terrible-even though he is a central character in the movie, it does a poor job of explaining who he is.
  • 180px-tuskegee_airman_posterTuskegee Airmen-Surprisingly my oldest was able to tell us all about them. He learned about them on a late night history channel show. Who says letting your kids stay up and watch tv is a bad thing?
  • 250px-g_a_custerGeneral Custer-specifically on him you want your kids to understand his Last Stand and why he may not have made the wisest battle decisions. The movie does a bit of spoofing on this and there is a part where he talks about his ‘big mistake’.
  • I am all about finding those teachable moments and while this movie probably won’t win any Oscars, it is a great way to introduce the kids to some historical characters. With a little bit of knowledge from the above list, you may provide them with a frame of reference to make it all that more enjoyable.

    I am sure that I probably left out quite a few characters so if you think of any, leave me a comment and I will try to add them.

    *Most pictures in this post came from Wikipedia and are common use.


    1. sandrafoyt says:

      This is great, I'll definitely go over these with my son before we see the movie. This weekend we visited the Met in NYC before we saw The Hideaways (an old movie based on The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, in which siblings hide out in the museum.) I almost wish we'd seen the movie first so that the kids could enjoy looking for the art pieces featured in the movie!

    2. well, it is not much as interesting as the former one. may be expectation was little higher for me!

    3. I loved the first one for the same reason, as you can see here on Shaping Youth: “Night at the Museum Becomes Night of History Lessons”

      …But was the sequel as good? (rarely, I know) I'm pre-disposed against it a bit, as it's been heavily marketed with tons of tie-ins/product placement/consumption (Fox made a deal w/McDonalds next for junk food, etc.) but that aside, is the plot/theme any good by comparison? Haven't seen it yet…