Kyle J. Steenblik

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a fun family film

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3 1/2 stars out of 5Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Written by: Robert Ben Garant, David Guion, Michael Handelman, Thomas Lennon
Story by: Mark Friedman, Michael Handelman, David Guion
Night-the-the-Museum-Secret-of-the-Tomb-PosterStarring: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Rebel Wilson, Skyler Gisondo, Steve Coogan, Patrick Gallagher, Ricky Gervais, Rami Malek, Mizuo Peck
Release date:  December 19, 2014
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, being the third film of the series, is much better than I had expected it to be.  While I am not in love with the film, I certainly won’t mind watching it with my children.  There is a wide enough spectrum of humor to appeal to a very wide audience.  Actually, I was pleasantly suppressed with some of the better historically based humor running alongside contemporary pop-culture references.  What the film is light on is substance.  There are a few token morals, and some very basic character development, but as a whole, the primary characters are the same at the end as they were at the beginning.  There is a short arc dealing with the father-son relationship I wish had more development as I think that could have made a much stronger story, but it was enough to keep the story moving.

When the magic powers of The Tablet of Ahkmenrah begin to fade Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is faced with finding a solution or losing his museum friends.  Unfortunately, Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) does not know the secret of the tablet, which is a secret his father took to the grave, and that grave was shipped to the British Museum.  After convincing the New York museum curator Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) to authorize the transfer of the Tablet and Ahkemenrah to the British Museum Larry sets off to awaken Pharaoh Merenkahre (Ben Kingsly) and learn the secret to restore the tablet.  To help him, and to try to mend strained bonds, Larry brings along his son Nicky (Skyler Gisondo), and to help Larry Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck), a new Neanderthal named Laa (Ben Stiller), and Dexter the Capuchin Monkey have stowed away with Ahkmenrah.  Together they bring the magical tablet into the British Museum, bringing it to life for the first time.  Once inside, they meet Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) who volunteers to aid them on their quest.

The redeeming, and endearing elements of this film are enough to keep it entertaining, but not enough to make the film entirely worthwhile, unfortunately.  The relationship between Jedediah and Octavius is amusing but not much evolved beyond where it was in the first two films, so while amusing it feels played out.  The addition of the Neanderthal Laa, who has adopted Larry as his father, adds a fair amount of silly humor, and a good chance for Stiller to have some terrific comic interactions with himself, but did not add much to the substance of the story.  There is a terrific exchange between Larry and Merenkahre, I won’t rehash the joke but Kingsly’s 5 minutes here is better than the whole of his time on Exodus.  Dan Stevens as Lancelot is hilarious, the role is a little gimmicky but it works.  Finally, there is a terrific cameo, which may be the best part of the film, but to say much more would spoil it completely and that would just be rude, suffice it to say Hugh Jackman shows up, as Hugh Jackman.

This is not a bad film, nor is it among the very good.  It is entertaining enough to enjoy with your family at least once, I am not sure how well it will hold up to repeated viewings at home.  I would suspect the gags would wear thin for but the youngest audience members.  If you were looking for a new family film, or lighter fare, this would not be a bad choice.

As a final note, while it does not have bearing on the film itself this is among the last films Robin Williams completed before his death, as well as Mickey Rooney.  As such, this film will be held in a special regard, I will say it is a good final note for both of their careers.

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