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Movie Quote Monday: Night at the Museum 2 (Battle of the Smithsonian)

This is one of the rare occasions when a sequel reuses the exact same premise as the first movie and it actually works.

The basic idea is that an ancient tablet has the power to bring all the museum exhibits to life, from sundown to sunup. In the first movie, we see brand new night security guard Larry Daley first learning about this crazy phenomenon and then learning how to deal with all the nightly mayhem. Naturally, there are also bad guys and a struggle to save the tablet from getting into the wrong hands.

This sequel uses pretty much the same idea: magic tablet, exhibits come to life, bad guys. But the action was moved to the many Smithsonian museums lining the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Smithsonian is the largest museum and research complex in the world, so we’ve got a host of new characters along with the old familiars. And the new location gives Larry and company plenty of room to romp, including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

The real difference between the two movies is what Larry is personally going through. The first movie is really about Larry finding himself and his purpose in life. In the sequel, Larry has moved up in the world, and things are going pretty great. But by the time the movie’s over, he’s asking himself, “Is this what I want for my life? What really makes me happy?”

Amelia Earhart:  Do you know why I became a pilot?
—Larry:  I don’t know.
Amelia Earhart:  For the fun of it. Why else would anyone do anything?

I can think of a lot of reasons why else I would do something. Like, I love that I have a place to live and I can pay my bills. Sometimes we do things simply because it’s the right or kind thing to do, even if it doesn’t necessarily make us happy.

Of course, this is just a movie, and the choice Larry has to make isn’t really very complex. He’s not deciding between living his dream and having a place to live, for example.

In real life, I think it’s important to love ourselves and seek ways to be happy, successful, fulfilled and content. But I also think real life is just way more complicated than that.

What do you think?

Should we construct our lives with only happiness in mind?

Why else do you do all the things you do?

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. night owl #

    I believe that, at our core, we act out of self-interest. We first want to satisfy our basic needs, then move up the scale of Maslow’s hierarchy. Sometimes, satisfying our needs makes us happy, sometimes is doesn’t. I do believe that, with awareness and mindfulness, it is possible to BE happy even inside the choices we don’t necessarily feel satisfy our higher desires.

    Let’s say you yearn to be of service, be a doctor or a public servant, yet you are working instead as a cashier at a big box store. It is still possible to be of service, to put your whole self into serving others for those times.
    I remember a story in our local paper. A young woman was working at Walmart, simply being good at being of service to the customers. One customer came in and was so impressed with her attitude and helpful nature that he offered her a job as his personal assistant. He happened to be actor Corbin Bernsen and it turned out to be a dream job for her.

    Just thought that was a cool story.

    It’s kind of a zen concept to be happy with whatever is in front of you. I just like the idea of it. Putting it into practice – well, that’s a whole other ball of wax.

    July 1, 2013
    • I would agree with the self-interest comment. I know I tend to lose myself in my own little world and maybe I don’t necessarily neglect other people on purpose, I just don’t look outside of my little sphere enough.

      And I really like and agree with your take on happiness. Very often we don’t get what we want, but we can appreciate what we get. Here in America especially, I think we’re inundated with the idea that we should be, have, and get more. It’s kinda what our economy is based on really, I guess. And that searching and looking at things that are beyond our current means is what gets us in trouble. Look at all the people who lost their homes because they bet on income that they didn’t know for sure they’d get. But they wanted that big house RIGHT NOW! And worse, they were encouraged to go for it.

      Happiness is a state of mind and emotion, and a lot of people would be a lot happier if they could see the merit and value and greatness in what they already have. (This said by a person who is never quite happy with herself, haha!)

      July 3, 2013
      • night owl #

        I think we tend to experience ‘contentment’ in small doses, for the most part. It is part of our physical nature to rarely be in perfect balance. We hunger, thirst, get sleepy, need to evacuate – all in fairly regular cycles. Our bodies don’t stay ‘happy’ for very long. It’s no surprise our minds don’t either.

        July 4, 2013
  2. I think that although we are self-centred by nature, it’s important to put others first. If we don’t serve others and do for others, our own lives would be very small – we wouldn’t fully appreciate the blessings and moments of delight that accompany sharing life with others.
    Think of all the joy you feel when you have done something to make someone else happy. Of course, pursuit of happiness is important, but I just believe there is more to this life than THIS life and we need to invest in others’, not just our own, happiness.

    July 1, 2013
    • I agree with all you’re saying! Building treasures in heaven! 🙂

      I get more and more selfish as I age, I think a lot because I’ve lived alone so long. The longer that goes, the more comfortable and a bit isolated I become in my little piece of the world. I need to make myself get out of that zone and interact with others. I do get a great big swell of joy and satisfaction when I’m able to help someone who needs me. But I don’t put myself in those situations as much as I should. And the longer I’m alone, the less I invite others into my life, as well, by asking for help with things that I need.

      July 3, 2013
  3. I think it depends on the things we do. Different things are done for different reasons. Some things I do because they make me happy, some things I do (even though I may not want to) because I know they are good for me (chemo), and some things I do purely for fun. And my fun may not be your fun (running marathons, which most sane people don’t find fun at all).

    July 3, 2013
    • You’re right – there is no one cover-all answer 🙂 But it’s so fun to ask the questions and see what people are thinking. Here’s the other thing: what my answer is today may not be what my answer is next week, much less next year. As you know (boy do you know!), life changes in an instant and we are constantly in flux. But I think you hit it on the nose, that we take care of ourselves, we minister to and care for others, we do what we have to do, what we want to do, what we should do. And sometimes what we should NOT do, haha! We just do our best and be the best us we can be. 🙂

      July 3, 2013
      • You always say things in a way that I wish I had, Michelle! Exactly!

        July 3, 2013
        • haha! you are good for my ego! Mostly I just repeat what other people just said, I think. I tend to need to reword it in my head to make myself fully absorb it. Sometimes I realize what I’m doing and it’s embarrassing, but oh well.

          July 3, 2013
          • Ha! You are a college professor’s dream student. I always hated reading something and having to paraphrase it in my own words. It always seemed so silly, because they already expressed it perfectly fine!

            July 3, 2013

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