Museum of fun

Timothy Barber
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<!--StartFragment--> NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2<br /><strong>Cert: PG<br /></strong><br />THIS Bank Holiday&rsquo;s slice of family-centric fodder pulls off that rare cinematic trick &ndash; it&rsquo;s a sequel that&rsquo;s better than the original. However, given that the original Night at the Museum was a dog&rsquo;s dinner of a film, the bigger surprise is that it was ever a big enough hit to justify a follow-up. This being a far more serviceable piece of holiday flam, part three is no doubt in the works.<br /><br />A thankful improvement is the substantial reduction in Ricky Gervais&rsquo;s hapless museum manager role, now down to a cringe-inducing cameo. Would that the same could have been done with the film&rsquo;s star, Ben Stiller, an actor whose charms utterly elude me. In the original film, Stiller&rsquo;s character Larry Levy was a security guard at New York&rsquo;s Natural History Museum, who got into adventures when the museum&rsquo;s exhibits came to life at night. This time round, after the contents of the museum get moved to Washington&rsquo;s Smithsonian Museum, Levy &ndash; now a small-time businessman &ndash; sets out on a rescue mission.<br /><br />The Smithsonian being the world&rsquo;s biggest museum, there are a whole lot more exhibits to get reanimated now. Joining Owen Wilson&rsquo;s cowboy, Steve Coogan&rsquo;s Roman legionary, Robin Williams&rsquo;s General Custer and others from the first movie are Amy Adams as aviator Amelia Earhart and Hank Azaria as a dastardly ancient Egyptian ruler who enlists Al Capone and Napoleon as his sidekicks.<br /><br />Kids will love the film&rsquo;s CGI-fuelled action sequences and there are a few more funny lines than in the first film, while the most fun by far is to be had with Azaria&rsquo;s deliciously hammy turn as the lisping pharaoh. Don&rsquo;t expect it to be much cop as far as historical insight is concerned, but as a way of keeping children entertained over half-term, this outdoes its predecessor by a distance.<br /><br />AWAYDAYS<br /><strong>Cert: 18<br /></strong><br />AWAYDAYS&nbsp;might be yet another film about football hooliganism, but it&rsquo;s much more interested in conjuring up the feel and fashions of the late Seventies post-punk era. Adapted by writer Kevin Sampson from his own book of the same name, it&rsquo;s set in Liverpool in 1979. Carty, a young, middle-class art-rock fan, is bored of his job as an office junior and looking for excitement, finding it in the form of The Pack, a gang of hoolies from the&nbsp;local council estate. The Pack are a more stylish breed of footie casual than the bovver boys they do battle with on the urban wastelands of northern England, all Fred Perries, Adidas sneakers, mod cagoules and foppish wedge haircuts. They&rsquo;re a pretty weedy-looking bunch of bruisers, to be honest, but nastier and wilier than their rivals, and not afraid to wield the odd Stanley knife.<br /><br />The period recreation, from the soundtrack to the record shops, the smoky Intercity trains to the gigs that gave birth to the indie scene, is terrific &ndash; a romantic, evocative view of a very specific time and place. It&rsquo;s a shame that the story tacked onto it is complete nonsense. Carty&rsquo;s entry to The Pack is made via their one eccentric member, Elvis, a space-cadet with dreams of Berlin, New York and Bowie, who takes a liking to art-school drop out Carty, eventually developing an obsession.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s an awful lot of very ropey dialogue of the &ldquo;how far are you going to push it, la&rdquo; variety, and some pretty dodgy acting to go with it. Carty, played by Nicky Bell, is a massively uninteresting character, and his fixation with The Pack is never satisfactorily explained. Elvis is a bag of teenage cliches, and the whole thing is much too po-faced to ever achieve lift off. <!--EndFragment-->