"Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb" shows signs of life

Jan. 21, 2015, 1:15 p.m. | By Nicholas Shereikis | 9 years, 4 months ago

The third addition to the series carries on the legacy

The "Night at the Museum" film series began in 2006 with an interesting premise: a magic tablet is shipped to the Natural History Museum in New York, causing the exhibits to come alive at night. Newly hired night guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is co-opted into taking care of everything and everyone, making sure everything returns to its original place before the break of dawn. In the newest addition to the series, "Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb," the tablet begins to be marked by an unknown force. Searching for answers, Daley and company are forced to unravel the mystery of the tablet's beginnings.

If you enter the theater for "Night at the Museum 3" expecting a well-developed plot and a sophisticated sense of humor, you'll be sorely disappointed. But that's not what this film is about. Rather, it's a confederation of individual comedic scenes, held loosely together by a plotline that allows for endless creativity. This plotline allows characters to be pulled out of anywhere imaginable – from the mythical Camelot to the Revolutionary War – and interact. This opens up unbelievable possibilities for comical cross-cultural misunderstandings.

"Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb" is good entertainment. Photo courtesy of Deadline.

Creating ridiculous, bizarre situations is something that this film does perfectly. For example, at one point in the film, Lancelot (Dan Stevens) is engaged in a fight with Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Larry Daley (Ben Stiller). Hitting a dead end, he hurls himself into "Relativity," the M.C. Escher painting. As perspectives shift and melt away, the characters manipulate their new surroundings to flip and jump from sideways staircase to sideways staircase, while fighting the entire time.

However, the greatest moment in the film occurs towards the end of the film in a long, drawn-out kiss between Larry Daley and Dexter (played by Crystal the Monkey). As hilarious as the kiss is to watch, it's also highly entertaining to watch Stiller struggle not to break out laughing while the monkey caresses his face. To think about the time and effort that went into training the monkey for that to happen is, well, ridiculous.

Another interesting aspect of "Night at the Museum 3" is its star-studded cast. The film features recurring actors such as Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson (as miniature cowboy Jedediah), Ricky Gervais (as Dr. McPhee), Dick Van Dyke (as Cecil), and Mickey Rooney (as Gus). The film also includes surprising cameos from other well-known actors: Ben Kingsley (as Merenkhare), Rebel Wilson (as Tilly), and, shockingly, Hugh Jackman (as himself).

Occasionally, an ineffective attempt at humor will cause an entire scene to die. For example, a monkey urinating on Jedediah and Octavius (Steve Coogan) causes what could have otherwise been an interesting scene involving Pompeii to implode. However, what falls short is easily compensated for by the rest of the film.

"Night at the Museum 3" also marks the last on-screen appearances of two actors that died shortly after finishing the film: Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney. The final salute from Teddy Roosevelt is an incredibly poignant moment given Williams' recent death. In one scene, towards the end of the film, he tells Ben Stiller that he's turning to wax (the tablet's powers are wearing off and Roosevelt is returning to his normal state). While it probably meant nothing at the time, it's interesting to note that prior to his death he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a degenerative disease. In this context, his character returning to wax becomes an melancholic parallel to Williams' own life.

As stated earlier, if you go to view the film in hopes of a complex plot and sophisticated comedy, you'll be in for a long 97 minutes. However, if you go in with nothing more than a desire to be entertained, and are willing to take the film for what it's worth, you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you get. "Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb" is a good way to spend an otherwise lazy afternoon, and watching that sweet, sweet monkey kiss is more than worth the price of admission.

"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" is rated PG for rude humor including some reckless behavior and is now playing in theatres everywhere.

Tags: Robin Williams Night at the Museum

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