Under Review: Night at the Museum 3

Christian Maines, Staff Writer

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” while occasionally enjoyable for its slapstick humor and a certain lovable monkey, largely falls flat as the third and (most likely) final movie of the franchise.

Directed and produced by Shawn Levy, who also directed “The Pink Panther” and the previous two movies of the series, “Secret of the Tomb” follows night guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) in his exploits in the British Museum.  Larry’s usual companions, figurines Octavian (Owen Wilson) and Jebediah (Steve Coogan) face danger in the air ducts of the London museum as viewers bid a bittersweet farewell to Robin Williams, who posthumously surmises his role as Teddy Roosevelt for the last time.  As one would expect from this movie, the plot loosely revolves around the animate museum artifacts searching for the cause of their continued existence, which is threatened as the story progresses.

“Secret of the Tomb” is not unique from its predecessors in that the movie relies on an excellent cast rather than a good story.  Both Wilson’s welcomed resumption of his role as cowboy Jeb and Williams’ portrayal of Roosevelt overshadow Larry, leaving viewers longing for more scenes with the minor characters than those relating to the actual plot, which is straightforward if not entirely predictable, and perhaps ten to twenty minutes too long.  The previous antagonists, including the recently deceased Mickey Rooney, make a brief appearance for little more than comedic effect.

The movie essentially accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to appeal to and satisfy younger audience members who are just along for the ride.  Nonetheless, the movie does have its moments in the sun, excluding the cringeworthy romance between Neanderthal Laa (Stiller) and Tilly (Rebel Wilson), as well as Larry’s relationship with his unmotivated disk-jockeying son Nick (Skyler Gisondo).  Not one theme is thoroughly expressed and developed, but the action sequences are exciting and Lancelot (Dan Stevens) offers a breath of fresh air to the rather stale storyline.  Furthermore, long-time fans of the franchise will not be disappointed by what can simply be seen as another iteration of the same struggle; however, as a stand-alone film, “Secret of the Tomb” falls short.

The underlying problem of the film is that it is a comedy remarkably lacking in laughs.  Levy is more interested in staying relevant through the cast than he is in capturing the wonder that made the original movie so great.

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” runs 98 minutes and is rated PG for action, rude humor and brief language.