Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Rebel Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson, Skyler Gisondo, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Ben Kingsley, Dan Stevens
In the third film that nobody was asking for Larry (Stiller) is in charge of overseeing a fantastic special effects-laden show for New York’s elite. What nobody knows is that the ‘special’ in special effects is magic, and when the tablet becomes corrupted it adversely affects the exhibits at the museum. In order to save his friends, Larry has to go to the British Museum in London and learn the secrets of the tablet from Merenkahre (Kingsley).
I’ve liked both Night of the Museum films but I was never clamoring for more, and I was surprised to hear a third one was being made because it didn’t seem that there was much more to explore, and sadly this is true. The story here isn’t very strong, and it doesn’t bear scrutiny. The thing you have to ask yourself is do you enjoy the characters enough to sit through the movie?
I appreciated the way Secret of the Tomb calls back to the first movie but the humour feels tired and overplayed. It almost feels like people felt obliged to take part rather than do so out of passion. Wilson and Coogan are good as usual and Williams has some nice moments, including a poetic end in his final live-action role (if you ignore the little vignette at the end). But overall there’s a lack of spark and urgency. The jokes are unoriginal and I rolled my eyes when ‘London Calling’ played as images of the capital flashed up on the screen. I think it’s impossible for it to be any more clichéd.
Rebel Wilson had far too much screentime and I sorely hope that they’re not setting up the series for a continuation with her as the lead because the film drags to a halt whenever she’s on screen. It feels like the writers don’t actually know what’s funny, so they give us lots of awkward moments that simply don’t work. There are, however, tender moments and as I mentioned before the strength is really the dynamics between the existing characters, along with Lancelot (Stevens) providing a charismatic presence. The inclusion of Lancelot also leads to the funniest moment of the film and a completely unexpected cameo, which I will not ruin here. I’d almost go so far as to say that this cameo is worth the ticket price alone, so it’s something to look out for.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb offers something for people who have seen the other two, but the details of how the tablet works are nebulous. This could be forgiven if the comedy was strong but it feels lacklustre as well. Even the main theme of the film; Larry realizing that he has to let his son make his own decisions, doesn’t have any tension. I think this is one that, if you want to watch it, you should probably wait until you can rent it or stream it on Netflix etc, the laughs are few and far between and a film cannot run on nostalgia alone, especially when the first couple of films aren’t exactly beloved classics in their own right.