<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Dan Stevens, Ben Kingsley, Ricky Gervais, Rami Malek, Patrick Gallagher, Mizuo Peck, Rebel Wilson, Dick Van Dyke
Night At The Museum was a frantically fun and magical franchise but sadly this last sequel looks dead and drab, totally devoid of any magic.
We return to the newly renovated New York Museum of National History after a stint at the Smithsonian in the last film. A new astrology wing has been added on to the museum, which never really features as an important addition apart from a dazzling intro in the beginning. Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is security guard and event director now but he and the exhibits that come to life at night realise something is amiss. The tablet of Ahkmenrah is decaying and having an adverse effect on the magical characters.
The only way to find out what to do is for some of them to head to Britain’s Museum of National History where Ahkmenrah’s (Rami Malek) father (Ben Kingsley) is on display. Only he knows the secrets of the tablet. This feels strange because the title of the film is ‘Secret of the Tomb’ but it’s actually the secret of the tablet. That’s not the first bit of lazy writing you’ll encounter.
In London Larry, Ahkmenrah, Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck) and Laa the Neanderthal (Ben Stiller in a double role) with Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan) and the cute capuchin monkey Dexter encounter a triceratops skeleton and Sir Lancelot who turns out to be not so gentlemanly after all. And they all just end up in a laugh less and lethargic chase to recapture the tablet in order to… give it some moonlight!
I remember just laughing once during the film when Ahkmenrah’s Pharaoh father cracks a joke about loving Jews having owned thousands of them. Ben Stiller looks particularly jaded especially in the scenes with his now grown up son who wants to do something different with his life. A plot that is devoid of any real father-son bonding. Robin Williams in his last onscreen role before his suicide shows vague signs of being out of form and restrained. There’s no real joy in his eyes. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan are in good form though but what the writers were thinking with all the homoerotic lines and teases I really can’t tell since it never amounts to anything.
Even the humour of new Brit security guard Tilly played by Rebel Wilson turns out to be horribly forced. All this is due to the particularly bad writing by David Guion and Michael Handelman.
Night At The Museum is a disappointing finish to the franchise, more so because it shows us that Hollywood has lost some of its magical charm.