The first ‘Night at the Museum’ was a fun, family-friendly film that didn’t shy away from its own ridiculousness. There was a sense of magic to it that few films are able to capture. It was a Ben Stiller comedy first and foremost but it did not feel like one.
Its sequel, ‘Night at the Museum: Night at the Smithsonian’ took the comedy element and stretched it to awkward lengths, so that many jokes were unfunny and the heart of the story was weakened. Lacking plot, character development or that aforementioned sense of magic, the sequel felt lacking in many regards.
Now five and a half years later, the third installment aims to recapture what was lost.
‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ seems to strike a balance somewhere between the character and heart of the first film and the awkward comedy of the second and, as a result of the latter, fails to reach the humble heights of the original. But rather than being outright disappointing, the threequel is a surprising homage to the first film and what charmed audiences the most. The characters that were largely supplanted in the second film in favour of new ones return with pivotal roles.
One of the great potentials of the franchise is how it can take figures from any time in history and throw them together in a mismatched gang. This is ‘Secret of the Tomb’s greatest strength.
Newcomer Lancelot feels right at home interacting with President Teddy Roosevelt, Attila the Hun and Pharaoh Ahkmenrah. Laa the Caveman is a welcome addition to the pack as well, while there are several heartfelt moments courtesy of Dexter the Capuchin, Jedediah the Cowboy and Octavius the Roman.
Larry’s arc is also resolved satisfyingly and the location shift to London is welcome.
A weak plot and an over-the-top performance from Rebel Wilson didn’t stop me from liking ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ even if it doesn’t quite match the original’s charm and magic.
READ: Daniel’s Review