Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2 stars)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Ben Stiller and co return for the third film in Shawn Levy's family friendly franchise

Even in a dual role, Ben Stiller can’t keep the bored look off his face as he fronts the third instalment of the franchise. What started eight years ago as a charming kids’ romp has evolved into a series of overlong ‘comic’ sequences that struggle to make you care, let alone laugh.

Night watchman Larry (Stiller) now manages the evening events at New York’s Museum of Natural History. The exhibits come alive, ostensibly by SFX but really as a result of an ancient spell, something museum director Dr McPhee (Ricky Gervais) doesn’t believe. When the magic starts to wear off, Larry heads to London. Beloved museum exhibits Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan) go too. While worrying about his music-loving son Nick (now played by Skyler Gisondo), Larry must rekindle a magical object that looks like a mobile-phone keypad.

Tourists should be warned that the British Museum depicted here is both that and the Natural History Museum, but never mind. Poignantly, this is the final cinematic glimpse of Robin Williams and he shines. Malek too is graceful in a weak yet pivotal role and Hugh Jackman, Dick Van Dyke and Andrea Martin have brief, refreshing cameos. However, not everyone rises above the material: Dan Stevens’ Sir Lancelot should be expunged from his IMDb page; Rebel Wilson has become an all too predictable performer; and Stiller’s Neanderthal is embarrassing.

The director of the previous instalments Shawn Levy has fashioned a film from Stiller’s ego and run-of-the-mill slapstick with a side order of déjà vu. The franchise’s original writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon are sorely missed. In the end, despite the best efforts of Williams in particular, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is so laboured and lousy it makes you want to punch yourself in the face.

General release from Fri 19 Dec.

Night At the Museum: Secret of the Tomb | Official Trailer

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 38min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Shawn Levy
  • Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Dan Stevens, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson, Ben Kingsley, Owen Wilson
  • UK release: 19 December 2014

Former museum nightwatchman Larry (Stiller), now a manager at New York's Museum of Natural History, goes to London to rekindle a magical object. Stiller looks bored, and despite some refreshing cameos and the last, shining glimpse of Williams, it's so laboured and lousy it makes you want to punch yourself in the face.