With the special magic of the tablet in peril, the gang flies to London in search of a solution.
First started in 2006, it’s been a full six years since the last Night at the Museum movie. And I’m pretty happy they did, as Secret of the Tomb is a thoroughly enjoyable slice of family fun.
This time, the notion that the exhibits might stop coming to life adds a bit of extra peril and the change to a setting in London for part of the action adds some extra complications. Otherwise, it’s business as usual as Ben Stiller interacts with a bunch of crazy characters and people get chased by a giant sack of bones that once was a dinosaur.
It mainly works because its all very good-natured. There are no heavy-handed sermons about how wonderful museums are (though it does touch on it from time to time) and even the father-son relationship (between Stiller and newcomer Skyler Gisondo) doesn’t get a lot of air-time.
Instead, we get to spend time with characters from history and plenty of fairly decent CG creations. The best of the new additions is undoubtedly Dan Stevens (who is having a hell of a year). He pop up here as the one and only Sir Lancelot, hamming it up with great gusto and a touch of self-awareness which he also brought to The Guest.
Elsewhere there’s Rebel Wilson – whose popularity continues to confound me – and a brief-enough appearance for Ben Kingsley. Stiller gets to play dual roles for one of his more slapstick turns in years and (really) old hands Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney pop in.
And, of course, there’s Robin Williams. As the last major studio release he completed before his death, the story gets some extra emotion whenever his existence is in peril but the film doesn’t linger on it, bar a much deserved dedication in the credits.
There’s fun action here, silly characters and over the top effects, as well as cute a monkey which the kids in my screening adored. And there’s stuff for the adults too, including some nicely played off colour remarks that make it all the more palatable. A must-see for families this Christmas, and well worth seeking out even if you haven’t got any little ones.