Night at the Museum is back for a third and what seems to be final time for adventures with history come-to-life.
The basic gist of the plot is that the magical tablet that brings museum exhibits to life at night is sick, so the gang travels to The British Museum in search of answers. It's little more than an excuse to get out of the house and go over to London for a change, but who could ever mind that? If there's too much plot, it would take away from all the horsing around, which is the appeal of this franchise anyway.
"The gang" consist of Larry (Ben Stiller) and his son Nick (Skyler Gisondo), Egyptian king Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Wiliams), the miniature cowboy and Roman solider Jedediah and Octavius (Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan), a monkey, Attila the Hun, Sacajawea, and... a caveman (Ben Stiller... again). It's a big group that could have done with less, but it turns out the large and familiar group is one of the charms of the movie, and to make up for the huge number of favorites who had to be included, only two significant characters hailing from The British Museum are added -- the night guard (Rebel Wilson), and Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens). Plus Dick Van Dyke returns for a scene, and Ben Kingsley graces us with his presence; as does Ricky Gervais, just, with less grace.
I admit, the main reason I ever got around to seeing this third installment was because of Dan Stevens being Lancelot, and he is probably what I enjoyed most (though not by too much) kinda because he was more interesting than just a gallant knight of the Round Table, and, most importantly, because it was so strange and hilarious to see him doing silly American-style slapstick humor.
|...but still playing an old-fashioned British character. Very surreal. Like the blueness of his eyes...
All the characters are fun and unique though, and watching them all interact and have fun together was as amusing as it was pointless. And in spite of the large number of them they all had plenty to do. Still the normal guy who holds everything together is Larry, and I liked that they added his son back into the story. Larry is having difficulty with his graduating son who wants to skip college to pursue his dreams, and their relationship added some very welcome real-life depth to all the historical fantasy fun.
Most of the jokes were successfully funny, but they were also mostly played for too long. Killed jokes are funny at the beginning just like any other joke, but they're always dead in the end, no matter how alive they were at first. So you laugh, and then you stop, and then you feel sorry for that poor little joke that didn't deserve such a short life. And then you move on to the next one. One gag that could have gone on as long as it liked though, was Hugh Jackman and Alice Eve's cameos -- hands down best part of the movie. And I actually enjoyed watching Ben Stiller interact with his caveman-self more than I thought I would.
|Fun times, fun times...
So that's basically it -- a decent, amusing flick where all our favorite fun Night characters going on an adventure overseas to save the world (sorta -- not really) following a simple plot that allowed for maximum fun and silliness. It all wound up very evenly; a quarter was just pure entertaining fun; a quarter was funny gags; another was made up of jokes and fun things that didn't turn out quite right; and the last quarter was surprisingly endearing -- the deeper, sweeter stuff that gave it all a bit meaning.
The Night at the Museum franchise has never been anything more that what it still is with this latest installment -- entertaining, light enjoyment. Not the best adventure you can have for less than $20, but you could do a lot worse hanging out in a non-magical museum at night!