Monday, December 28, 2015

Now Museum, Now You Don't

A few months back, I blogged about working my way through the Night at the Museum movies. I actually finished that little "project" a while ago, watching the third installment, Secret of the Tomb. Noting my thoughts here managed to slip through the cracks, though.

Secret of the Tomb marked a bit of a course correction from the second movie, Battle of the Smithsonian. Where the lovable side characters of the first movie sat out too much of the first sequel, this final installment puts the old gang back front and center as they all travel to London. Also in focus is the life-instilling tablet Macguffin that started it all; its magic may die forever if the characters can't find a way to restore it.

That's not to say that there's nothing new at play in Secret of the Tomb. In fact, some of the new additions yield some of the movie's best laughs. Blowhard Sir Lancelot, played by Dan Stevens, is a funny new presence in the mix. There's a hilarious cameo appearance by Hugh Jackman (alongside Alice Eve). Rebel Wilson is doing her shtick as a night security guard at the British Museum. (Though some people really seem to hate her.) And while I wasn't quite loving the dual-casting of star Ben Stiller as a new Neanderthal character named Laaa, the visual effects used to put him in scenes with himself are pretty seamless.

But while the jokes do work rather well, the surprising thing is how poignant this final Museum film ends up being. No doubt the deaths of Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney after filming these roles plays into that, but regardless, there's a lot of emotion in this story. The plot touches on growing up, moving on, and making sacrifices for others. I mean, it's not a dramatic masterpiece, but it's more deep than the average family-friendly fun fest tends to mine.

All told, I'd say Secret of the Tomb merits a B+... which actually puts the series as a whole in a good place. While none of the Night at the Museum films are truly top shelf, there is a quite consistent level of above average entertainment there.

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