NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB Review – Not Much of a Secret

2014 has been a good year for family films.  We have been treated to the likes of Muppets Most Wanted, Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Book of Life. Even Penguins of Madagascar stepped it up to entertain us.  Unfortunately, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB doesn’t continue the trend.  It’s an uninspired movie, clearly aimed at a younger audience, which fails at such an extreme level that even fans of the first two films in the franchise will leave the theater disappointed.  Continue reading for our spoiler-free review of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB.

Ben Stiller is back playing Larry Daley, the newly promoted director of nighttime operations for the New York Natural History Museum, a place where all the exhibits come to life after sundown.  This means that Larry is able to interact with the likes of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher) and a monkey named Dexter. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB begins when the magical tablet that allows this to happen starts to become corroded, causing the exhibits to behave very strangely.  Now Larry must set off on an adventure that will lead him to a museum in England in order to figure out what is happening.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has a bone to pick with the forces threatening (from left), his son Nick (Skyler Gisondo), and Larry’s pals Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) and Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher). Photo by Joe Lederer TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

 

Director Shawn Levy, along with writers David Guion and Michael Handelman, seem to have no interest in creating anything original.  The actual script makes very little sense at times and the humor is pretty much non-existent.  I think I counted three good laughs in the whole film.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Director Shawn Levy (R) discusses a scene with the late Robin Williams (L) on set. Photo by Kerry Brown TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.

 

The actors themselves all seem relatively bored with the material.  The only performance that really has any merit comes from Ben Kingsley who seems to be having some genuine fun with his ridiculous dialogue.  Meanwhile, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and the rest of the cast all seem to be there primarily for a paycheck.  Lets be honest though, it would take a miracle to make something out of the flat, humorless things that are written for them to say and do.

I also need to mention a missed opportunity.  It’s always great to see a family film that can teach children a little something while it also entertains.  The story of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB takes place within the walls of two museums, making it a perfect opportunity to teach kids a little something about history in an entertaining way.  Too bad the filmmakers throw this chance away in order to concentrate on a lot of unfunny gags which sometimes go on for so long that they eventually wear out there welcome.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Lancelot (Dan Stevens, left) and Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) plan the next move to save the magic. Photo by Kerry Brown TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.

 

Some people like to defend a film like this by saying, “We must recognize that the audience the movie is trying to appeal to is children.”  What?!?  In my personal opinion children are smarter than this and movies should stop talking down to them.  Talents like Jim Henson and Walt Disney were aware of this concept and continuously put out great children’s entertainment that didn’t insult the intelligence of our youth.  If you’re looking for some quality entertainment, there are better family films (Big Hero 6) in the theaters to go see.  Or you can just reach into your own movie library and watch a personal family favorite.  Since it’s the holiday season, let me recommend a couple of mine: Prancer, and The Muppets Christmas Carol.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.