It took me awhile, but I finally got around to seeing the final installment of the Night at the Museum trilogy this week. Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb (PG, 2014) wraps up the saga of Larry Daly and the Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which magically brings all of the museum exhibits to life at night.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb attempts not only to button up the series but finally offer an explanation of the origin of the tablet and why it brings the museum pieces to life at night. The journey begins when Larry notices a corrosive material spreading on the tablet. This corrosion detracts from the tablet's efficacy, leading Larry on a quest to London to speak with Ahkmenrah's parents and discover the way to fix the tablet and restore its power before his friends turn to wax forever.
There were some extremely funny moments in this film, although considered overall I found it the least amusing of the three movies. Familiar tropes are repeated from the earlier films, with much less effect. The movie is a little bit darker; even though there is no "bad guy" comparable to Kamun-Rah (Hank Azaria) in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the origin of the tablet will take us back into Egyptian paganism and the dark magic of the ancient Egyptian priesthood. There are some very comedic spots, but they are rare peaks in a film full of valleys. Perhaps some of the comedy just falls flat because, now eight years into this series, the sorts of situations and word-play that Ben Stiller is known for are just not as funny anymore.
One aspect of this movie that was really disappointing was the way Larry's relationship with his son Nick was portrayed. Nick Daly is now a college-age young man trying to figure out what he wants to do in life. Larry is pushing him into college, Nick wants to explore other options. While I like the promotion of alternatives to college, it was disappointing that this aspect of their relationship was ballooned into the classic father-son antagonism plot. At times it seemed much too forced, and I had a hard time understanding why this subplot was a necessary part of the overall story. I suspect it is because Hollywood no longer knows how to portray family relationships except through the "broken-family/power struggle" lens.
There are a lot of new characters introduced, both wax and human. But the old characters are all reprised as well. The resulting cluster of characters leaves the cast crowded, and some of the characters do very little. For example, Sacagawea and Teddy Roosevelt are present throughout almost the entire movie but do nothing of consequence other than follow Larry around, presumably in order to remind us
There were some great cameo appearances by Ben Kingsley, Dick van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Bill Cobbs, and Hugh Jackman.
So, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is moderately interesting, has some good chuckles, but falls kind of flat in humor and plot. Thankfully, this will be the last film the in series. It was very apparent that it was time to put it to bed. I give it 1.5 tiaras.