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Night at the Museum – Secret of the Tomb (A Movie Review)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb


Starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Skyler Gisondo, Rebel Wilson, Dan Stevens, Ricky Gervais, Ben Kingsley, Dick Van Dyke, Rachael Harris, Bill Cobbs, Andrea Martin, Patrick Gallagher, Brennan Elliott, Percy Hynes-White, Mickey Rooney, Alice Eve and Hugh Jackman.

Screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman.

Directed by Shawn Levy.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  97 minutes.  Rated PG.

I’m not sure the world has been waiting with baited breath for another Night at the Museum film, particularly since the last one is over five years old and pretty much forgotten, though it was a big hit at the time.

But here we are, staring down the barrel of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and the only real notable thing about this third film in the series is that two of the stars (Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney) have died since their roles were filmed.  Rooney has a glorified cameo here, but Williams once again has a quite substantial supporting role as Teddy Roosevelt.

Whether it is fair to the movie or not, since this is the first film we have seen Williams in since he committed suicide a few months ago, his presence givesSecret of the Tomb a real sense of melancholy that overwhelms much of the movie’s very lightweight pleasures.  No amount of silly sight gags and dumb historical humor can undo the sense of unfairness at Williams’ much too sudden death.

It would be a difficult conundrum for even the strongest film to overcome.  And let’s face it, the Night at the Museum films are not exactly known for their stellar filmmaking, though in fairness the first film was rather amusing.

However, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was just a lazy repeat of the first movie, with a new city (from New York to Washington DC) and bigger – if not necessarily better – special effects and comic stunts. Secret of the Tomb also falls into this groove, again moving most of the action (this time to London) but not adding all that much as far as humor or excitement.

Which is not to say that Secret of the Tomb is a horrible film, though it is not very good.  In fact, of the three Night at the Museum films it is undoubtedly the most lifeless.  And it is the most unnecessary.  However, some of the jokes hit their mark here, and British actor Dan Stevens (The Guest) gives the series a little jolt of life every time his Sir Lancelot is onscreen.

Secret of the Tomb is supposed to be the finale of a trilogy, though it appears that the story passes the baton from Ben Stiller to new recruit Rebel Wilson in case they decide to do a reboot.  However, Wilson’s eccentric humor feels wasted here, an odd fit for the series.  Hopefully if Secret of the Tomb does poorly enough director Shawn Levy will see the hieroglyphics on the wall and allow the Night at the Museum franchise to rest undisturbed in some deep cavern until some unlucky archeologist stumbles upon it in a few thousand years.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: December 19, 2014. 


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