REVIEW — “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”
Just like the third “Hobbit” film, “Secret of the Tomb” is just more of the same.
While far from perfect, the first “Night at the Museum” had a clever premise. An ancient magical tablet (back then said to be “cursed”) brought all the animals and exhibits to life each night. This concept was loaded with potential; virtually anything could become a character, and the wonderment it created in the eyes of children might interest them in visiting museums themselves. Skip forward a few years and all the abysmal Night at the Museum 2 was released. All the charm and cleverness was gone, instead sticking with the same slapstick and primate urination gags from the first. Five years more and now we have the third in the series, which is certainly an improvement over the last, but brings very little freshness to the table.
Larry (Ben Stiller) is now in charge of the museums renowned Night Program, which has been recognized for its impressive visual effects. Apparently the people of New York are conveniently naive. On the opening night of their new planetarium, in which actual constellations come to life (umm, what?) a strange corrosion is found on the tablet. This odd corrosion causes unpredictable (and unfunny) reactions in all of the living exhibits. Soon they are off, globe-trotting, looking for the “Secret of the Tomb” which ends up being so innocuous, we’re not sure why it was called a secret in the first place.
But this is a silly comedy, these gripes are all nitpicking, right? Perhaps. Kids will definitely get a kick out of the random silliness. There are occasional bright glimmers of unexpected humor for the adults too, in particular an exchange with a Pharaoh about how great Jews are. Ben Stiller’s dual role as a Neanderthal is some of the funniest character work he’s done in years. Dan Stevens and Rebel Wilson each have some great moments. We won’t spoil them here, but there’s also some delightful big name cameos. However, when it comes right down to it, too much of the film is just recycled gags. (Yes, including more primate urination!)
While it may not be the final in the series, it’s evident that Ben Stiller is passing the reigns on to a new lead. Who knows, maybe if a fourth one comes out, this fresh blood can breathe new life into the series.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Sidenote: Dan Stevens may be the next great, underappreciated actor. Need proof? Compare his roles in this, The Guest, and A Walk Among the Tombstones.