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While some reviewers panned it, I thought “A Night at the Museum” was full of surprises. The advertising run-up to this movie made it seem like it’d be sort of an indoors version of “Jurassic Park,” and the first several minutes bored me with another (overdone) Ben-Stiller-is-a-good-guy-who-gets-picked-on character.

After that, though, things got exciting. Old stars (Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney) had more than cameos and did pretty well. Current stars (Robin Williams) took wonderful turns in supporting roles, literally coming to life throughout the movie. And while Stiller never really moves past his typical (and stereotypical) character–which just as well could have been called “The Same-Guy-From-‘Meet-the-Fockers’ Takes a Museum Job”–the powerful dynamics of reconciliation and restoration are powerful.

In a time when so many holiday-season movies are R-rated Oscar-qualifying flicks, I appreciate one that teens and kids can enjoy and their parents can appreciate. And, like “Rocky Balboa” and “Charlotte’s Web,” there’s an enjoyable and meaningful message worth waiting for.

“Night at the Museum” could have been on the “Top Ten Family Films of the Year” if it had come out sooner. And, if you don’t have a family–but want to have one someday–can I be so bold as to say that this movie might be the inspirational tool you need to make some changes and move that direction.

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