Night at the Museum is an example a movie which I didn’t really appreciate the first time I saw it. The first time, I wasn’t yet a masculist, so I wasn’t looking at media from the perspective of men’s issues. But now I am, and I can now say that Night at the Museum is a fun adventure about a father, also with several other masculine messages mixed in.
The main character, Larry, is a divorced dad with partial custody (Wednesdays and every-other weekend) of his 10-year-old son, Nick. Larry is a schemer who goes from job to job, but he is also a loving father who eagerly spends time with his son, takes an interest in his activities and will do anything to not lose him.
By the end of the movie Larry is strong, in control and intelligent (he even studies!). His son loves him and both are confident about themselves and Larry’s work. Nick trusts his father and Larry doesn’t let himself be pushed around.. He is a good role model for his son and for young viewers alike.
On the topic of fathers, the movie makes a strong case for the importance of fathers to their children. Larry is very important to Nick. He isn’t just someone who can come and go without notice. Then there is also Attila the Hun. In a brief scene, he is revealed (or at least implied) to be so violent because he didn’t have a chance to spend time with his father. This helps establish the importance of paternal involvement, and it even does it without overly blaming Attila’s father. It is said the Hun-senior was off plundering and pillaging, but Larry also adds that he was “doing his job”, thereby not overly blaming the father for his absence, as so often happens.
The issue of male aggression is also approached by the Jed and Octavius characters. At one point, Jed says that they are fighting because they are men, and because that is what they do. This is an old tune, sung often, but Night at the Museum takes it a step further. Jed and Octavius go on to work together, laying aside their anger to help save the museum. Their wish to fight is pinned on their will to see their people thrive, showing them to be good leaders. Without even saying so, the movie quickly overturns the idea that men just want to fight for no reason by showing these two warriors teaming up and even becoming road-trip buddies. It’s easy to miss, but it is a welcome message.
Over all, night at the museum is a fun adventure movie about a strong father, and it also touches on other male issues as well. Larry is a strong male lead who is in control and focused, but also has a sense of humor and a more sensitive side which gleams through on a few occasions. He is one of the rare examples of a ‘cool dad’ who isn’t a soldier, isn’t rich, isn’t a scientist and isn’t a stooge to his wife. He is a real cool dad.