I watched Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with a fairly open mind as I often find that films like this are a massive guilty pleasure and this looked like it was going to be a cross between the first Night at the Museum with The Mummy, a potentially winning combination in my opinion. The one thing that’s missing from family films like this is the ability to communicate to children without seemingly treating them like they are idiots. Its a shame because the first Night at the Museum managed to get this balance, it was informative, educational and packed full of magic. Reaching the third installment just acts as a reminder that the concept is tired, boring and they just end up flogging a dead horse.
The things that work about this movie are Steve Coogan (Octavius), Owen Wilson (Jedediah), Ricky Gervais (Dr. McPhee) and the opportunity to see the late great Robin Williams (Teddy Roosevelt) in action once more. The premise is so unimaginative it’s almost embarrassing; the tablet breaks again and this time we are taken to the British Museum in London as a bit of a change if scenery, but sadly this isn’t really enough to maintain my interest, the novelty wore off really quickly. The film is saved by the return of all the old favorites from the first films coming back to make you laugh, just like they have done before. I’m not entirely sure why Dick Van Dyke (Cecil) needed to return, that was just a step to far in my opinion and just another failed attempt at harking back to the glory days. The addition of Rebel Wilson (Tilly) felt like a promising companion but she failed to deliver and instead just acted the way she acts in all the films she is in, it’s tired and it’s been done too much. I have never liked the character of the monkey because it feels like the film is stuck in a time when monkeys were used as sidekicks like in Ace Ventura or Indiana Jones, before people started taking a moral high ground. I personally don’t find it funny, it’s just uncomfortable to watch.
All the negatives aside, I did actually quite enjoy the film purely because it is a bit of a guilty pleasure and it is a bit of fun. I’m sure that children absolutely loved it and even though it wasn’t particularly well received, films like this will always do reasonably well because it’s a tried and tested formula and it’s part of a series which has done quite well up until now. The special effects are at times rather questionable and seem a bit lazy and the writing is poor, Ben Stiller is Ben Stiller but the saving grace is the return of beloved characters from previous films. It’s alright for a bit of Saturday night entertainment, it’s not awful but it’s not exactly brilliant either, it’s a very average family film that doesn’t raise much more than a smile but it does entertain you for its meager 98 minute duration. Like the promo reminds us it premieres SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 8:15pm. Gather the family.