Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian


Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (*½)

Confusion actually led me to this film. I had intended to take my daughter to see Up, but the listing I followed to the cinema apparently had yet to be updated. Once we were inside, looking up at the board, I couldn’t simply take her hand and say, “Too bad, we’re going home.”

Especially after she saw that Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was playing. Score one for soulless target marketing.

The script, penned by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) was, to say the least, lackluster: slipshod story construction, shallow character development, and cheap comic gags abound. If anything characterizes Hollywood’s low aim, it is these enterprise or “franchise” films. Night at the Museum is all about merchandising and brand recognition. Actual content is an afterthought. Still, though, the prospect of good money pushes these projects forward; after all, they got three films out of Problem Child and Look Who’s Talking alike. Both projects were throughly abysmal, and leaves one wondering how bad the third Museum film can possibly be. With any luck, bad enough to be shelved.

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Controversial to the end … and beyond


We have long smiled over the fact that the late Michael Jackson could not cross a street without causing a riot. But apparently neither can he die without … well, it wasn’t quite a riot. Still, though:

The bus was moving through the city of North Lauderdale on Thursday when passenger James Kiernan received a text message about Jackson’s death on his cell phone, and he read it aloud on the bus, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department said.

The unidentified bus driver opined that “Michael Jackson should have been in jail long ago,” prompting Kiernan, 60, to retort that “the world just lost a great musical talent,” the police report said.

It said the last remark enraged another passenger, Henry Wideman, who started a swearing match with Kiernan, then pulled out a knife and chased Kiernan down the aisle with it.

Can’t a man die in peace?

Headline of the … year?


Stoned wallabies make crop circles

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.

She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops ….

…. “The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles,” Lara Giddings told the hearing.

Then they crash,” she added. “We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high.”

Any further comment would be futile.

(Tip o’the hat to Mo.)

Not quite a funeral for a friend


Thank you, Mr. Froomkin:

Today’s column is my last for The Washington Post. And the first thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all you readers, e-mailers, commenters, questioners, Facebook friends and Twitterers for spending your time with me and engaging with me over the years. And thank you for the recent outpouring of support. It was extraordinarily uplifting, and I’m deeply grateful. If I ever had any doubt, your words have further inspired me to continue doing accountability journalism. My plan is to take a few weeks off before embarking upon my next endeavor — but when I do, I hope you’ll join me.

Dan Froomkin may be finished at the Washington Post, but he assures us this isn’t over. Keep your eye on WhiteHouseWatch.com for future developments. And take comfort that the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University will continue to carry his work.

Eulogies abound. I will get to those later. Maybe.

Insanity? Terrorism? Senility? Murder.


In a video game, a conspiracy-theorist radio host asks if his callers could please just make sense.

In life, though, I wonder the same thing about, well, yeah ….

In von Brunn’s car outside the museum, authorities found a handwritten note, according to the affidavit: “You want my weapons — this is how you’ll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama created the Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do.” There were other anti-Semitic rants, followed by: “The 1st Amendment is aborgated — henceforth.”

There is actually a lot to consider about the Holocaust Museum shooting. But while some would make the hay about the obvious—that the DHS report on right-wing extremists might well have been accurate, for instance, or connecting angry, right-wing talk show rhetoric to extremist violence—there is something else, perhaps more subtle, that begs notice.

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For the love of God … no!


No, no, and no.

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire … Liam Neeson.

Representatives from the film corporation 20th Century Fox have reportedly approached the Irish actor to offer him the part of Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith in the forthcoming movie The A-Team, based on the cult 1980s television series.

Producers hope Neeson, 57, will be able to recapture the magic of the original character, portrayed by George Peppard. A cigar-smoking master tactician, who is also leader of the crack squad, Hannibal’s recurring line, “I love it when a plan comes together”, has regularly featured in lists of television’s most memorable quotes.

There’s no point in asking if Hollywood has run dry for ideas. We all figured that out a while ago.

This isn’t the kind of disaster that comes with casting Keanu Reeves in Cowboy Bebop. That’s just a mistake. Rather, Neeson will do fine insofar as anyone can, but an A-Team remake just shouldn’t be made.

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Calling BS on BS


Glenn Greenwald has a few things to say about the euphemization of torture:

In today’s New York Times, William Glaberson describes a proposal being circulated by the Obama administration to enable Guantanamo detainees to be put to death upon a mere guilty plea, i.e., without the need for a full-blown trial. The article describes the purpose of the proposal this way:

    The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to terrorism but whose cases present challenges. Much of the evidence against the men accused in the Sept. 11 case, as well as against other detainees, is believed to have come from confessions they gave during intense interrogations at secret C.I.A. prisons. In any proceeding, the reliability of those statements would be challenged, making trials difficult and drawing new political pressure over detainee treatment.

The primary reason to avoid trials upon a guilty plea is to prevent public disclosure of the details of the torture we inflicted on these detainees. Despite that, the word “torture” never once appears in this NYT article. Instead, according to the NYT, detainees in CIA black sites were merely subjected to “intense interrogations.” That’s all? Who opposes “intense interrogations”?

Over the years, we’ve heard a cyclical crescendo rising from the constant murmur about the “liberal media”, implying and sometimes explicitly accusing a conspiracy among journalists to wreck the Republican Party and the right wing of American politics.

Yet over and over, in an effort to be “neutral”, major media outlets, including newspapers of record, have given over not to political correctness, but what is described as “Bureaucratically Suitable” language. BS language is much like its cousin, PC, except that it is tailored to institutional and legalistic desires.

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