Over the course of three movies, Night At The Museum has gone through as many museums and pharaohs as it has release dates, and to varying degrees of success. While the 2006 original was a lukewarm success, the 2009 sequel managed to improve on the first film's faults and mix action with comedy rather effectively. So naturally, this should be the moment where Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon's franchise comes to a triumphant close, shouldn't it? Sadly, Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb isn't the big closer that it should be, but it still manages to land some funny and beautiful emotional moments in its brief run.
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is back to being the night guard at the Museum Of Natural History, and he's parlayed his magical friends into a successful “night program” that lets others enjoy the magic of the museum. Unfortunately, the tablet of Ahkmenrah, the life force of all of the exhibits, is decaying at an accelerated rate. This threatens the lives of the exhibits, and causes Larry to dig deeper into the mysteries of the tablet, while trying to save his friends from losing the magic that keeps them alive.
Ironically, Night At The Museum lost the magic that kept its franchise alive, as Ben Garant and Lennon's presence as writers is absent for the franchise's final bow. Which is a damned shame because while they started out weak with the first film, they had massively improved their blend of action and comedy in Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian. Losing that balance takes a heavy toll on the story, which jumps awkwardly between set pieces and shifts its course between serious emotion, action, and comedy on a dime.
Bad news aside, Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb delivers some effective laughs by using its established cast members in the most effective ways possible. However, this doesn't discount any of the newcomers, as Dan Stevens' Lancelot has some exciting battle sequences, as well as a couple of fun comedic moments. (One of which involves a really creative cameo that pauses the action of the third act to become a comedy again.) Fellow newcomer Rebel Wilson also comes off as energetic and a welcome comedic force as the British Museum's night guard.
For all of its faults, Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb manages to end the film with an emotional finale that closes out the series in a bittersweet manner. If only the film had strengthened the emotion from the last 30 minutes of the film, and connected it to the various story threads the film leaves dangling, it might have played better than the final product seen here. If you're a fan of the Night At The Museum franchise, and if you're ready for one last appearance by Robin Williams' terrific depiction of Theodore Roosevelt, then you shouldn't have a problem checking in for one last night.
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