Night at the Museum Secret of the Tomb review

Shawn Levy
Ben Stiller
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Ricky Gervais
Rebel Wilson
Dan Stevens
Rated: PG

Ben Stiller returns to the “Museum” franchise for one last adventure, once again reprising the role of Larry Daley. Now an experienced security guard, Larry has aspirations of involving the museum pieces which magically come to life in the educational experience at the exhibit. The problem is that the tablet that allows the museum pieces to come to life is unfortunately losing its power.

To restore the magic at the museum, Larry, his son and exhibits like Teddy Roosevelt (Williams), travel to a museum in London which has the secret of the tablet that can reverse the current trend.

I never thought I would be reviewing a third “Night at the Museum” movie. Sure it was franchise that had made some money, but wasn’t hugely popular. So was a third “Night at the Museum” necessary? Did it bring everything together for the most epic finale to a trilogy? Not really.

The movie’s story is basically a rehash of the previous two films with a ‘race against time’ conflict thrown in. While generic and cliche, this could have still work well enough for a family, adventure film. What didn’t work as well is the relationship between Larry and his son. Throughout the film there is a conflict that arises from Larry’s son not wanting to go to college and Larry wanting him to get a higher education.

The whole subplot just wasted time and seemed unnecessary. It would have been fine if it were just a small part of the picture, but the father/son subplot takes up so much time despite being rather predictable. The whole conflict with the tablet running out of power was strong enough on its own and didn’t need the drama of the subplot.

The acting was very hit or miss with this flick. For example, the movie completely wastes the talents of both Rebel Wilson and Ricky Gervais. Two great comedic actors were simply underused here and did not get the screen time, or the lines, that they deserved.

Appearances by Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan were also quite weak, as they basically did the same thing that they did in the previous films. More or less, every bit of humor they have is based around the fact that their characters are from miniature exhibits. While it had some charm in the first movie, the schtick has worn thin.

Without a doubt the best performance, and best part of the movie, was delivered by Robin Williams. Williams’ performance, which sadly is one of his last, was very energetic. He was the only museum character that had a sense of realism that a person could relate to. His character was one that I ended up caring about and I wish the other museum characters had been similar.

One performance that had both positives and negatives was that of Ben Stiller who was fine as the lead man Larry, but terrible as the museum character Laaa. Stiller can play an “everyman” type character very well and does fine as the main protagonist. He understands the character he plays and is fine in the role. The caveman part was just awful, though, using nothing but broken English and slapstick humor to get some laughs.

Speaking of the comedy, much of it goes for the lower common denominator. Of course there is the caveman character’s antics, but we also get such gems as a monkey peeing on a volcano and giant lion statues acting like cats following a flashlight around.

It’s not to say that all the comedy was bad. There were some legitimate, good comedic moments that provided some laughs. In fact, the movie had maybe one of the best cameos that I’ve seen in quite a while.

“Secret of the Tomb” is, like the other movies in the franchise, average at best. There simply isn’t that much special about this third installment, which is too bad because it could have been better if Wilson and Gervais were used more. There are enough humorous moments, good examples of special effects and a nice performance from Robin Williams to make the movie watchable, it’s just not memorable. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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