One of the stranger inside-baseball aspects of the leaked Sony emails and recent kerfuffle over the release of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s The Interview was the hostility or indifference toward the studio’s stars. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the Big Six studios places fear, parent-company concerns, and ego above talent on the priority list, but Sony has also shown considerable interest in grooming or maintaining semi-in-house talent, especially in the comedy realm: Most of Adam Sandler’s movies since Big Daddy have been for Sony, along with the non-Anchorman Will Ferrell/Adam McKay movies, Phil Lord/Chris Miller projects like the 21 Jump Street series, and the probably-curtailed Cameron Diaz/Jason Segel/Jake Kasdan comedy team that made Bad Teacher and Sex Tape. The company seemed to be establishing a particularly fruitful relationship with Rogen and Goldberg, with most of their previous screenplays and story ideas (Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, This is the End) produced by the studio, up to and including a violent and silly movie about assassinating Kim Jong Un.
Night at the Museum is the most financially successful of 20th Century Fox’s three family-centric trilogies of the past decade, with bigger special effects than the Wimpy Kid series and, one would hope, more adult appeal than the hallowed Chipmunks trilogy. Though they aren’t particularly adult or even especially funny, the Night at the Museum movies do attempt to pacify cranky parents with a truly impressive collection of performers collecting what I can only hope are truly impressive paychecks for the task of standing around and cracking the most wan, least engaged jokes this side of a Grown-Ups movie.
Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Opens December 25
The arrival of The Interview, towing more political baggage than any lowbrow bro-down in recent memory, amounts to an impromptu test of the old saw that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. That this strenuously ridiculous entertainment is apparently the root of both an international incident and a debacle of historic proportions for its maker’s corporate parent—assuming anonymous claims of responsibility for electronic sabotage can be taken at face value—only brings into sharper relief the uneasy contrasts that define the film.