Going to see “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” is like a visit to a museum you’ve been to countless times. You go in knowing you’ve seen most of the exhibits before, but you hope there’s some new material to add a little spark.
The third film in the “Night at the Museum” series (and it seems like there have been far more than three) features the same mix of Ben Stiller’s frantic performance as security guard Larry Daley, mixed with the lunacy that comes when all of the exhibits come to life at night. The added material is a trip to England — but the new locale just results in the same jokes being presented by a few new characters.
There’s nothing wrong with such familiarity. But there’s also nothing that right with it, either. It’s all a matter of how low you set your expectations.
What serves as the weak plot is the malfunctioning Egyptian tablet that brings the exhibits to life. It’s going bad and if Larry can’t stop it, there will not be walking, talking museum displays. The problem is that the answer to the problem can only be obtained through a trip to the British Museum.
Daley packs up the tablet and a few other exhibits and heads across the sea.
Most of the movie is an extended chase scene as Larry and his fellow travelers try to find a way to fix the tablet while dealing with an overzealous Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens), who thinks the tablet is the Holy Grail.
There are a few good and bad moments that break up the monotony. Sir Lancelot crashes a stage production of “Camelot” starring Hugh Jackman and Alice Eve. This odd mix of fact and fantasy creates the biggest laughs of the film.
It is nice to see one more performance from Robin Williams. It’s just sad he wasn’t given more to do.
Screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman should have spent less time with the uninteresting plot line of Daley and his son (Skyler Gisondo) debating life choices. It’s like going to a museum and ending up at a taping of “Dr. Phil.” Just get over it.
Those laughs get wiped out by some painfully low moments. Rebel Wilson — portraying a randy security guard — drains the life out of the movie. Whether it’s scripted or improvised, Wilson’s attempts at humor were painful to watch.
The only thing worse is having to resort to urination scenes in a cheap attempt to garner laughs. This is an uninspired and easy way to try to be funny, which describes the entire film from director Shawn Levy.
It’s a shame there isn’t some magic golden tablet that can bring dead scripts to life. A dose of energy and originality would have gone a long way toward making this tired and dusty story a little richer.