The night at the museum

      Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced father who is unable to keep a stable job, the bulk of them being failed business ventures.
He is desperate to win the support of his son Nick (Jake Cherry), whom he fears is beginning to look up to his more successful future stepfather, Don (Paul Rudd) a bond trader on Wall Street.
Larry applies for a job at the American Museum of Natural History, where he is assigned as a night guard. The three elder (soon to be retired) night guards, Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), Gus (Mickey Rooney), and Reginald (Bill Cobbs), give him a quick tour. advise him to leave some of the lights on and warn him not to let anything "in...or out", which Larry meets with humorous skepticism.

      Once night comes, Larry discovers that the museum exhibits come to life including a living Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, a mischievous capuchin monkey named Dexter (Crystal the Monkey), miniatures led by cowboy Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Roman General Octavius (Steve Coogan), and a wax model of Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams).

      Roosevelt explains to Larry an Egyptian artifact — the Tablet of Akmenrah — was brought to the museum in 1952, and on that night, everything in the museum came to life, and each night since.
However, if the exhibits are outside of the museum by sunrise they turn to dust.
Roosevelt helps Larry by restoring order (insisting it is the only time he will help), and while unnerved he decides to remain as a guard.
On Cecil's advice, Larry begins to study the history of the events and people in the exhibits to prepare himself better for their animation. He meets Rebecca

      Hutman (Carla Gugino), who is writing a dissertation on the life and times of Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck) and learns much of the history of the various exhibits from her. The next night, Larry uses what he has learned to better control the exhibits, but again fails when four Neanderthals set fire to a display, and one is turned to dust when he leaves the museum.
Larry barely manages to keep his job after the Museum's director, Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais), discovers the mess. Larry tries to tell Rebecca about what happens every night, even offering to let her meet Sacagawea to help with her dissertation, but Rebecca does not believe him.
Larry brings Nick to the Museum, but fails to impress him when nothing comes to life.
They find Cecil, Gus, and Reginald stealing the Tablet of Ahkmenrah.
Cecil then reveals that like the museum exhibits the guards receive enhanced vitality and energy from the Tablet. Unwilling to forsake it, the three intend to steal the tablet along with various other Museum artifacts to fund their retirement, and frame Larry for the theft.
Nick activates the tablet's power and brings the exhibits to life once more,
but then Cecil locks the two in the Egyptian room and flees with the tablet.
Larry releases the mummy of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) from his sarcophagus: surprisingly Akmenrah speaks English, having spent many years as an exhibit in the Egyptology Department at Cambridge University. The three find the other exhibits fighting, and Larry manages to convince them to work together to reclaim the tablet or else lose their ability to be animated.

     Though the exhibits manage to capture Gus and Reginald without difficulty, Cecil escapes with the Tablet by stagecoach. whereupon Larry, Nick, Akmenrah, Jed, Octavius, and Attila the Hun pursue him through Central Park, eventually capturing him thanks to Larry's quick thinking of halting the horses with a secret word, "Dakota". The exhibits hurry to return to the museum before sunrise, and Rebecca sees them crossing the road in front of her and realizes that Larry was telling the truth. Entering the museum, Larry introduces her to Sacagawea.

      The next day, Dr. McPhee fires Larry despite his effort to clean up the museum; but readmits Larry when the reports issued by the news media (Cave paintings in a subway station, Dinosaur footprints in Central Park and cavemen waving torches) end up increasing the Museum's popularity.
Some time later, Larry appears in Nick's classroom during Career Day.
Later that night, Larry returns with Nick and all the exhibits celebrate. Cecil, Gus, and Reginald, meanwhile, are allowed to retain the vitality the tablet gives them at the cost of their retirement, as they are rehired at the museum as janitors. Larry does a final check of the museum and flips his flashlight into his holster, turning it off using his "Snapper" device (mentioned earlier in the film.)

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