When museum security guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) finds out that all of his friends who magically awaken at New York’s American Museum of Natural History may never come to life again, he sets off to London’s British Museum, in a bid to save the likes of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan). He knows he needs the help of Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley) and the Tablet of Ahkmenrah to ensure the magic doesn’t die – but faces a challenge when a disorientated Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) gets his hands on the treasured possession.
Given the themes explored, and the potential in the enchantment coming to an abrupt end – this picture should be more poignant and heartfelt than what transpires, though it’s not for the want of trying. Levy seems hellbent on hammering home the message of moving on, as not only do we have all of the characters from the museum worrying about their future, but Larry’s teenage son Nick (Skyler Gisondo), is growing up and contemplating a gap year or going to college. However it’s not in any way subtle and feels so contrived in its execution, without any real emotional depth.
Sadly this sentiment is somewhat indicative of the entire production, which struggles to find a balance between the more comedic elements, and the profound. Not that all films aimed at a younger demographic must revel in the latter, but when vying for it and failing miserably – that’s when issues arise. However, and regrettably, there are undoubtedly moments that will move the audience, given the passing of Robin Williams. Given he’s playing such an endearing, honourable character – with the occasional speech about how his time may be coming to an end – it’s enough to bring you to tears in parts. It also makes for an emotional closing credits, with the film not only dedicated to his memory, but to that of Mickey Rooney too, who has a small cameo role.
Nonetheless, when it comes to being adventurous, eccentric and entertaining, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb excels as always, while helped along by the credentials of this quite remarkable cast. One of which is Dick van Dyke, who can now, finally, be rest assured that he no longer holds the title for the very worst English accent – as Australian comic performer Rebel Wilson’s attempt is so amazingly bad, that it’s just about worth going along for.