I imagined before watching Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb that this would be a love letter to Steve Coogan who plays miniature centurion Octavius. That I would pithily compare cowboy Jeb, played by Owen Wilson, to Rob Brydon from his work with Coogan in The Trip & The Trip to Italy. However, what was shown in the trailers is about everything we get from these heroes. It’s not so much a chronical of a new adventure for our miniature heroes but a piece about moving on and saying goodbye. Saying goodbye even more so to both Mickey Rooney, who makes a brief cameo appearance, and our favorite American president, Teddy Roosevelt, played by Robin Williams.
Tomb begins with the magical tablet, which brings to life these and many more within the museums walls, corroding – with each surge of gritty green corrosion each piece of our rag-tag team is starting to forget themselves and become once again an innate object. With the secret of the tablet locked away with Ahkmenrah’s parents, Larry Daley, Ben Stiller’s titular hero, travels with his son and a selection of our favorites to the British Museum in hopes for the answers they need to keep their museum alive.
Shenanigans continue as they must trick night guard Tilly, played by Rebel Wilson, both getting into to the museum and, eventually getting out. Once inside they run into newcomer Lancelot, played by Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame. Together they try to navigate the museum and its new dangers of exhibits coming to life for the first time. Will they find the secret before it’s too late?
Watching the third installment I felt more like I was watching smaller vignettes wrapped into a feature film. Everything felt very disjointed without focusing too much on any one character. It felt much more like it a series of cameos as most of the cast didn’t have enough to do. Served to us in a 97 minute piece it’s likely that more could be done if we were able to get more screen time. Ultimately, knowing its family audience, the time does well as children in the screening were only just starting to fidget as the moving was drawing to a close.
All issues aside, I was often laughing. Not consistently, as there were several repeat jokes that wore thin as well as new attempts that fell flat, but an occasional cacophony of giggling in my seat. Both adults and children were invested throughout the film. There was an awareness of the audience that worked for children and adults alike. The third installment isn’t an Oscar contender, it’s not trying to be an art house classic, and it is what it appears to be. It’s a solid family film with laughs for both adults and children.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, a Fox release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “or mild action, some rude humor and brief language.” Running time: 97 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
MPAA definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is in theaters December 19, 2014.