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Enough Smithsonian oddities for another 'Night at the Museum' sequel

Hundreds of exhibits spring to life in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, making New York's Museum of Natural History — at least what we saw in the original Ben Stiller comedy — look like a high school science fair. What do you expect? The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest collection of historical artifacts, housed in 19 buildings surrounding the National Mall. Everything the Smithsonian offers can't be squeezed into one movie. But it seems that director Shawn Levy overlooked a few exhibits ripe for special effects and Stiller's brand of comedy. Maybe we'll find these oddities on the director's cut DVD:

Robber crabs: The world's largest land crab, these lobster-sized critters can lift up to 60 pounds and crack open coconuts. They have a knack for stealing shiny campsite objects like silverware, pots and pans — and for some reason, sneakers. Sounds like a running joke waiting to happen. And they're already alive.

The Hope Diamond: More than 45 carats and supposedly cursed. For centuries the families owning the gem lost kingdoms and at least one head formerly worn by Marie Antoinette. Stiller plays a family man in the Night at the Museum flicks, so reversing this curse is a no-brainer.

Soap Man: In 1875, two unusual cadavers, male and female, were exhumed in Philadelphia. Nicknamed Soap Man and Soap Lady, they had been mummified through a rare, natural process that turned their body fat into a waxy substance, encasing and preserving them. Soap Lady resides at Philadelphia's Mutter Museum. Soap Man could escape his Smithsonian vault to join her, leaving a trail of bubbles for Stiller to track.

Naked George Washington: Way back in 1841, Horatio Greenough unveiled the first sculpture ever commissioned by Congress, a tribute to the first U.S. president. People were shocked because the father of our country was depicted nude except for a partly draped toga. Imagine the comical discomfort Stiller could mine from that.

Copperlite: It's 10,000-year-old sloth dung. Fill in your own gag.

Steve Persall, Times film critic

Enough Smithsonian oddities for another 'Night at the Museum' sequel 05/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 2:33pm]

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