Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Headscratchers: Night at the Museum
  • If anything that was given new life by the tablet would turn to dust were they not in the domain of the tablet when it deactivated, wouldn't the old night guards (who specifically stated that the tablet literally gave them new life to explain the rejuvenation) turn to dust after the tablet was taken back?
    • Well, they hadn't actually died yet, had they? They were just old.
  • During the winter, the sun sets fairly early in New York, sometimes around 4:30 pm, which is about an hour before closing time. Even if both movies are set in the summer, the tablet was still in the Natural History museum for long enough for the previous guards to notice its effects, so why didn't anyone notice when all the exhibits came to life while guests were still in the museum?
    • The exhibits probably were smart enough to play statue while there were still people in the museum, and even is someone actually saw one or two of them moving, wouldn't believe it at first, coming up with something of the sorts of animated dummies.
      • The animals and the cavemen definitely wouldn't be smart enough. And some, like Attila the Hun, are too aggressive to do so.
      • Sunset may not literally be the activation point for the tablet, but instead simply a bit of poetic license to indicate the general timeframe in which it will usually start working. It's just easier to judge by sunset than say "When the third star of the fifth constellation is at thirty degrees from the horizon of the sea."
  • Why didn't the to-do list tell Larry to carry out tasks like "lock up the lions" before sunset? It's not like he'd have gotten fired if he'd shown up for his shift a few minutes early.
    • Remember the guards were not actually trying to do Larry any favours.
  • Where were the characters with firing weapons (the civil war puppets, the Roman miniature) getting more ammunition? Or the western miniature figures getting more dynamite?
    • They may have been making it. No way a war regiment or a western town wouldn't have at least one ammo maker or dynamite maker.
    • Or it's just part of the magic. Since guns that don't fire or bows without arrows and whatnot would be pretty lame for magically animated beings, the magic may supply them with the equivalent of Bottomless Magazines.
  • Dexter is a magically-animated stuffed capuchin monkey. How does he urinate on Larry?
    • The same way the Civil War soldiers' guns fire despite the museum staff knowing better than to actually load them.

Battle of the Smithsonian issues:
  1. : What happened to BrandonBrundon?
    • Good question. I wish he'd had a larger role in the movie. Given all the time that was spent talking about his name, he deserved it.
      • For that matter, why are there no guards at the Smithsonian at all after Larry breaks in? Heck, there were armed groups wandering around fighting within sight of the capitol building (including the Lincoln Memorial walking around and starting fights) and no security of any kind notices.
      • This is Washington DC, where the Secret Service can't find cars. It's not that hard to suspend disbelief.
  2. : How did the mess back at the Smithsonian get cleaned up/explained away?
    • I'm assuming there are janitors...though when they did it sure is a mystery.
  3. : What is the range of the tablet? Lincoln was activated when the tablet was brought under the monument roof, and NY Teddy was activated when the tablet was brought back to that museum, but Earhart was able to fly back to D.C. once the tablet was in NYC, and the Smithsonian exhibits presumably didn't turn to dust, even though they weren't in the same building as the tablet at sunrise.
    • I assumed once the tablet had woken up an exhibit, it would stay that way until sunrise. So someone activated on Night A would continue to do its thing until Night B, even if the tablet was moved away.
      • Are we sure Earhart made it back? Think of the line "I think it's going to be a beautiful sunrise." With the tablet in New York, she was flying back to oblivion either way.

  • What happened to Larry's love interest from the first movie?
    • Maybe she moved on to write her book on Sacagawea. In fairness their romance was more sparks than anything concrete. The real mystery is why Larry was so slow to show interest in Amelia - even given her, uh, condition she's still very attractive and is certainly interested in him.
      • As shown in the first film, wax statues don't turn flesh, but are still made of wax. Cold dolls having no smell (an so, not pherormons) are even less interesting when you have to run for your life.
      • If the things don't come to actual life but merely appear to, why was it such a big deal that Owen Wilson was being buried in sand?
      • Because he wasn't sure if it was enough to kill him or not.
      • Exactly. Would you really want to push your luck and hope that being buried alive under all that heavy sand (well, heavy for a five inch figure) wouldn't kill you? While they don't become completely alive, there are a few changes that occur that suggest they become more alive-ish at night. Teddy is less pale at night, Ahkmenrah isn't a dried up corpse, the miniatures are more detailed than during the day when they are plastic models. Al Capone was a cardboard cutout (hence why he was black and white). They don't become completely flesh and blood, but they end up being a lot closer at night. They know for certain that being outside after sunrise is a death sentence, but very few individuals are probably willing to test out the limits of their semi-alive state and figure out what could kill them. Teddy didn't die by getting cut in half in the first movie, but he still shoved Sacagewea out of the way of the coach so she wouldn't get squished. She even said that Teddy saved her. It is quite possible that he didn't know for certain how much punishment a wax figure could take before they essentially "died." And they probably didn't know if being buried would kill Jed. At best, being buried like that would be extremely uncomfortable. At worst, it might have been fatal for the magically-animated cowboy. They didn't know for sure and it was best to save him just in case.

  • So in Battle Of The Smithsonian, the NY museum gets a talking hologram of Teddy Roosevelt played by someone who looks and sounds just like the wax figure when it comes to life. How in the heck?
    • Maybe the museum got Robin Williams to do it.
    • Really convincing computer graphics. It's a bit beyond current technology, but so are decent-looking holograms, so I suppose the movie is set a couple years ahead of when it was made.
    • Graphics, sure. But who the hell voiced it? I stand by my initial theory.
    • Maybe some museum worker saw the figure and thought "Hey, he looks just like Robin Williams" and hired him to dress up like the figure for the hologram. As for the voice...I don't know. I guess that all of this could be explained by MST3K Mantra.
      • If you listen to the commentary on the DVD, Shawn Levy explains that Robin Williams actually did the voice himself. Accelerated talking and all. Even the editing crew was impressed by that.

  • What happened to Ed? You know, the guy Larry was supposed to meet with until he jetted off.
    • He showed up at Larry's home, found out Larry effectively stood him up, and angrily went back home, vowing to never do business with Larry ever. Which is fine by Larry, since Larry killed his business career.
  • Some people on IMBD were suggesting that the director's anger being about the fact THAT the museum was messy rather than asking Larry HOW it got that way meant that he knew what was—— going on. I don't buy it, but I just wanted to see what everybody here thought of it.
    • As a boss, I don't care how it got messed up. I'll just assume, given no real evidence of a break in, that the only living person in a locked building did it. What other option is there? Either the lone person did it or someone broke in. It's not like the exhibits came to life.
    • I always took it as my personal cannon that the boss did know. His behaviour is inexplicable otherwise—if I found the museum trashed to such a degree, I would neither care how it happened or give the watchman a chance to explain. He would be fired on the spot, and, what's more, we'd probably prosecute for damages due to negligence on the job. I mean, the museum was a disaster. Instead, Dr. Murphy just expresses anger at Larry's performance. That, and his general disfluency on expressing exactly what the problem is, convinces me that the Directors of the Museum are well aware of the tablet but try to maintain Plausible Deniability.

  • Where the heck did Pi come from in the second movie. PI was invented several Millenia later by the Greeks. Even if I've mistaken the time period of the Pharohs, pi has nothing to do with pyramids. Pi only is useful for round objects.
    • Rameses II ruled around 1200 Bc. According to the other wiki, Egypt had a ratio within 1% for seven hundred years by that time. Let it bug you no longer! By the by, Egyptians didn't build all pyramids...
      • As I recall the riddle had to do with pyramids which if you are correct in the time period is a big acronism.
      • Part of the "Pyramid Power" set of New Age superstitions is that a number of significant numbers, including Pi, are built into the dimensions of the Giza pyramids. If the sides were measured off with any kind of wheel, which the various how-to paintings they left behind suggest, it would be built in whether they knew about it or not.
    • But what the hell with the decimal system ??
      • Didn't the tablet only have 9 keys.

  • Why does the second movie overemphasize its Lampshade Hangings so much? All the attention is focused whenever it occurs, and it just seems awkward. Don't get me wrong, the jokes themselves were occasionally funny, but it seemed more like a documentary on how all tropes are cliches.

  • Why was the romance between Larry and Amelia so forced? It was completely out of nowhere and (based on how many characters said to them "You two make a wonderful couple!!" it seemed extremely forced and formulaic.
    • It was all a big setup for that awesome second base joke at the end.
    • Actually, people who work together in stressful situations do tend to form bonds faster then they ordinarily would, and it can have interesting repercussions when they're compatible genders(and even more when they're not). Thinking "oh, what the heck, I'll just go for it" seems in character for Earhart, and on Larry's side, I think it had something to do with dose pants.
      • Also, something that people tend to forget is that it's not just the "Fight or Flight response". There's a third F in there that your body suddenly might want to do what with the hormones flying around.

  • In the first movie, one of the the plot devices is that if all the tablet's pieces weren't all in place, the magic didn't work. Why, when Larry was being chased (or, indeed, at any point in the film when he was given pretty much free reign over the tablet) didn't he just turn one of the pieces around, and get rid of the bad guys while they're inanimate objects?
    • Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm being chased by FREAKING AL CAPONE, it's kind of hard for me to think rationally.
      • He had a long period where, at the villain's own insistence, he had nothing to do but think about how the tablet worked.
    • The only thing I recall was that when the pieces were misaligned the magic wouldn't kick in at sundown, but would at any point during the night. Maybe once it was turned on the magic would work until sunrise even if the alignment was changed, so it's not quite as simple as an on/off switch. It would have been nice to at least explain that.
    • Near the end of the second movie, when Amelia is trying to put the tablet into the door, there's a moment where several pieces of the tablet are off, so it doesn't fit in the door at first. I assumed that meant that, after the magic was activated by an intact tablet, it stayed in effect until sunrise.
    • There are quite a few indications that the tablet is only required for the transformation itself, at sundown, and that once that happens the effects endure, with or without the tablet, until sunrise. This explains not only hown the pieces can be removed with no ill effects to Amelia (above) and how she can fly in between New York and Washington DC (way above) regardless of where or what condition the tablet is in.
      • Taking that the tablet being out of position only stops the initial transformation as a valid excuse, there is a brief period where he has the tablet before sundown. It's short, but he'd had plenty of time before that to think about what his plan was, and you'd think "Turn the tablet" would have come up at some point.

  • Larry loses his phone while in the photograph portrait "V-J Day in Time's Square" and is picked up by Jay Baruchel some guy. At the end of the movie, he's shown to be tinkering with it, and his mother calls him "Joey Motorola," implying that Larry dropping the phone caused the first cell phone to be made. But...he dropped it in a PORTRAIT. And since it's just a photograph, how on earth is time supposed to pass anyways? Aren't they just supposed to be stuck in that one particular moment? So if anything, the phone small-mini-subplot made absolutely no sense. ...and what about the mooks that were trapped in there when he turned the portrait around?
    • It's just a silly joke. Motorola already existed in 1945, and it wasn't named after the founders.

  • Is Kahmunrah a wax figure or a mummy? He could be a wax figure because he doesn't look mummified before nighttime (when the tablet activates). He could be a mummy because he said that he "came back to life", and if I could recall he looked like he was in bandage when he was sent into the Land of the Dead.
    • He's a mummy; he picked up English from years spent in a British museum, which presumably took him straight from the Valley of the Kings.
    • Definitely mummy. You wouldn't craft a wax figure just to wrap him in bandages. And even if you did, you wouldn't stick him in a sarcofagus where nobody will ever see it. In order for it to make any sense, he'd have to be a real mummy that becomes flesh and decomposes evey night and day.
      • If he is a mummy, how could he not look like a decomposed body during the first time Larry saw him?
      • Because the tablet was made specifically to bring Egyptian mummies back to life. Wouldn't do him, or Akmenrah, much good if they came back as decomposed bodies.
    • Umm, mummies were created specifically to avoide decomposition. However they couldn't come back to life at all and remain mummies because Egyptians only left the heart in the body- and they tended to throw the brain away as useless.
      • Actually, they couldn't really come back to life because they're dead bodies. We're talking about magic here, remember?

  • This doesn't exactly bug me per se, but it is Fridge Logic: If a kid left a toy in the museum, I presume it would come to life after sunset like everything else inside, correct? So if a toy of something that doesn't exist in the real world was left in there (like a dragon or maybe even a Pokémon), theoretically for however many nights that toy is left there, that thing would would, in fact, exist. That would be so awesome. (Too bad it probably wouldn't happen if there's a third movie because they might get accused of plagiarism).
    • Vader was brought to life, and the Force clearly didn't work.
      • Yeah, but he still was walking around and breathing. If a toy dragon was brought to life and could walk and breath (and maybe talk, I dunno), it would still be an actual existing dragon during that time, even if it couldn't spit fire.
      • It would still be a hunk of plastic, just a moving one. Recall Teddy getting chopped in half in the first movie: He was still a wax figure.
      • YEAH, BUT IT WOULD STILL BE AWESOME, RIGHT? Dude, what do you have against my dragon anyway? :P
    • There is at least one dragon already on Smithsonian property. It's on the Merry-go-Round. You may also be able to count Viking figureheads. Why must you cheapen this by wanting a tiny, toy dragon wandering around as well?
    • To go with that, how about some Fridge Horror? What if they had a WWII exhibit and a cutout or statue of Adolf Hitler?
      • Then you'd have a short guy shouting German running around. Hitler was evil, sure, but he didn't have any special powers.
      • That we know of...
      • Besides, if he left the museum and the sun came up, he'd turn to dust anyway.

  • How could the cherubs fly if Vader couldn't use the Force? NY Roosevelt was made of wax even when he was alivened, so the cherubs must have still been made of stone. However, if Vader couldn't use the Force, the cherubs shouldn't have been able to use whatever magic flying power they used to fly as normal gods with tiny wings. It shouldn't be that it was a statue of David Prowse in a Vader costume, since Prowse wouldn't have thought he had Force Choke abilities, and probably wouldn't have wanted to be a villain and help take over the Smithsonian.
    • I'm pretty sure they're at least somewhat real when the tablet animates them. There was a scene in the sequel that brings special attention to Roosevelt's skin as it slowly morphs back to wax at sunrise. Also, the Civil War guys as well as the cowboys can fire bullets in the first one despite the fact that it's highly unlikely the museum would put working gunpowder in the replicas. Also, the statues are able to talk, despite lacking lungs and a voicebox. And let's not forget the mummies, which the tablet is able to transform from decayed corpse to living person every day and night.
      • The point isn't that they could fly, it's that they they could fly using their mystical Eros powers but Vader couldn't use the Force. Somebody is breaking precedent.
    • Maybe their magic only works on themselves, but not others. The cherubs fly because they're only affecting themselves. Vader can't use The Force, because he was trying to use it on somebody else.
    • It could also be that it was because he was trying to strangle someone who was being kept alive by a supernatural power, which was stronger than his control over the force. The giant squid, which cannot live outside water, was doing just fine without it.
    • It's probably because, in this universe, there is no Force to use. If Vader had come to life in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, he could have utilized that mystical energy field, but he came to life on Earth where it doesn't exist. Or maybe they just forgot to put midichlorians into his wax figure; the point is, the cherubs rely on magic intrinsic to them, so it comes into existence when they do, but Vader relies on an outside Force that has to exist independantly of him to work.

  • How were Larry and Amelia able to fly the replica Wright biplane with such distance and fluidity, pulling at least one u-turn if my perception was correct?

  • First movie...I understand she wanted to know more about Sacagawea, but she can't use any of the information she finds without scientific proof. Any interview would do nothing for her.
    • And Teddy confirmed they don't actually have the person's memories, just what people expect of them.
    • She'd already extensively, extensively, extensively researched Sacagawea. She probably wasn't looking for new information per se, but more an emotional viewpoint... who Sacagawea was, not the things that she did. While the animate wax Sacagawea might not have all of the real thing's memories, she's probably fairly accurate as far as personality and viewpoint go. Alternatively, even if all the recreations do is respond to what other people expect of them, a researcher having an independent representation of their own research to bounce ideas and thoughts off of would still be pretty invaluable for considering anything you might have missed or left out. But ultimately, the thing to remember is: the paper about Sacagawea was pretty much complete. What the character in question really was having a problem with was considering it as such and moving on past working intensively on a subject she loved so much... actually getting to have a conversation with a representation of Sacagawea probably represented a form of closure for her.

  • How did they manage to get away with it with all the security cameras around?
    • May be they didn't have them. They have a night guard and I don't remember seeing any monitors in the security gaurds' office.
  • For this troper, it's the deal with the center piece of the tablet. In the first movie, the exhibits don't come to life because the center piece of the tablet was turned. Larry could have avoided the whole issue in the second movie by simply turning the middle piece before the tablet was activated, right?
    • Yes, I felt the same way. There are so many problems with this movie, it's insane. (My dad even wondered how the security guards wouldn't have noticed what was going on in the museum! That explains things right there.) But the thing that always puts me in facepalm mode is the moment after Kahmunrah is defeated and someone says, "Let's clean up!" or something like that. Right, they're gonna repair all those broken glass cases, fix the airplane and fly it back, replace the stained glass window, fix the 1940s paintings that don't have 1940s people in it, and repair all the damage that octopus (squid, or whatever he was) did to the pillars... All in a few hours!!! [[biggrin]] I hope the Smithsonian has enough insurance to cover for all this.

This movie has way too many plot holes. That's all I can say about it.
  • If it's the museum of 'natural' history then why do most of the exhibits have nothing to do with natural history? For example, the T-Rex is natural but the pyramids, along with the civil war and Lewis and Clark are definately NOT natural.
    • natural history museums(at least american ones) generally have a department of anthropology and archeology and anything egyptian would fall under that. Furhtermore, egyptian exhibits are popular enough that the musuem would want to put them on even if they don't have a terribly large collection. The civil war and Lewis and Clark is probably just a combination of Rule of Cool and the museum being a mishmash of the smithsonian museums.
    • While I believe the film-makers put together the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan in the movie- The Museum of Natural History does have exhibits on the differing cultures around the world- They've even put up a web-page listing what they do and don't have based on the movie.
  • Just a quick question... should Kahmenrah's army of the underworld have hawk heads... isn't that Horus, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Probably my own Critical Research Failure, but wouldn't a jackal or something similar been appropriate?
    • Green skin would be most likely as Osiris was the god and king of the Underworld in Egyptian mythology; Anubis was the god of mummification, so while he did have connections to the Underworld (as a lot of Egyptian deities did because of its importance in their culture) he wouldn't be the most important deity. Hollywood just likes the association of jackals with death and the Underworld.
    • Thoth (or as the Egyptians named him, Djehuty) was the god of knowledge. Horus, the hawk-headed god, was associated with kingship and the Pharaohs were his earthly embodiment. Horus ws the son of Osiris, so it actually makes sense that he would provide an army of hawk-headed warriors.
  • I'm surprised that no one is complaining how Custer is on the good side, when he is known for attempting to kill numerous Native Americans.
    • Attila the Hun's on the good side, too, and he killed a lot more people in the course of his career. Plus, Custer is one of American history's biggest Butt Monkeys, so I think it's mostly Rule of Funny. Plus, movie!Custer's a certifiable idiot.
    • Values Dissonance. When Custer was killing Native Americans he wasn't considered a villain for doing so, and almost certainly didn't consider himself a villain... he was a military man doing what he saw as his duty to protect people. Compare him to an authentic murderous madman like, say, Hitler, or simply a further removed historical figure like Genghis Khan. If you resurrected Hitler, he'd probably want to make Germany strong again and go back to killing Jews. If you resurrected Genghis Khan, he'd probably want to start conquering Asia again. If you resurrected Custer, he'd probably... report for duty at a military base. "Should I go kill some Indians, Mr. President?" "Um. No. We don't do that anymore. So, don't do that. Ever." "Yessuh. And may I say, sir, you have quite the healthy tan to your skin, sir."
  • Why is the mini cowboy (I know the name but forget how to spell it) being buried in sand such a big deal? It's kind of obvious breathing isn't needed for the museum pieces, since the king of Egypt from the first one (again, hard name) was wrapped up in bandages and in a coffin for a really long time so I doubt he got any air, but he was totally fine.
    • The weight of the sand on him would be pretty extreme and hes just a wax figure it would probably crush him to death slowly.
  • With everything else in the various exhibits coming to "life", why didn't all the model planets in the aerospace museum start rotating? That would have been cool, and kept up the pattern of how paintings in the art gallery kept moving in the background.
    • Most of the stuff that comes to life are things that either were or represent living beings. As far as I recall, the gates don't start moving on their own, the furniture doesn't start scampering through the hallways, and the trash cans don't start calling "Feed me!", so it doesn't just imbue everything with life and motion. As planets aren't alive in the same sense a Pharaoh or a Tyrannosaurus Rex or Teddy Roosevelt were alive, they don't get animated.
  • So, Larry quit his job as night guard between the two movies... and they didn't replace him? At the beginning of the sequel, he spends the night in the museum, and he is the only person there. He's been gone for two years, shouldn't there be someone else doing his old job?
    • Wasn't the museum closed for renovation? If there was a new guard, maybe he had those days off.
    • Remember that under Larry's tenure, the exhibits learned to behave themselves when they came to life at night. The new guy probably just sat in his office and trusted the more responsible animated exhibits to handle any trouble that came up, which is why they were probably displeased by Larry's decision to leave... that's exactly the kind of behavior they (specifically Teddy) disapproved of in a night guard.
  • Why does the museum have a hologram of Teddy if he's one of the attractions staying there?
    • Because wax figures can't talk.

National TreasureHeadscratchers/FilmNight of the Living Dead

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy