Possibly an end chapter in the Shawn Levy trilogy, or at least in the terms of loyal and every man, Larry Daley’s partaking in after sundown events. This is a mixed bag, I enjoyed it and also disliked it. There are parts that are fun, smart and others that are pandering for really young children and bundles of silliness loses the magical atmosphere the first movie had.
After a disastrous press night demonstrating the museum’s alive acts, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) realises the tablet of Ahkmenrah is losing power and his friends are slowly turning back into normal exhibits. It takes him on a discovery of ancient Egyptian powers and a trip to London along with his son Nicky (Skyler Gisondo), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan) and others to try and stop the tablet eroding fully.
Let me start by saying it’s not the best and not the worst, the first is of course the best, just in terms of opening up this fantastical world and having an engaging dramatic backdrop of Larry trying to connect with his young son. The second, is the worst, it blows up into grander scale with no lasting wow effect and even Amy Adams and her moxy cannot save the show. This film has the knowledge that it could be wrapping up the series to help make it feel special. There are kiddy moments and a lot is not as good because it’s been spoiled in the trailers, but looking over a few flaws of script and a less than impressive end game, it’s still an entertaining movie.
The new characters are tools to breathe life into the trilogy and this time around, the main faces are Rebel Wilson as a Cockney security guard and Dan Stevens as Lancelot. One is good and the other is flat out annoying. Stevens moves from posh telly-land drama and psycho electric thriller/horror to demonstrate his more family friendly persona, though his Buzz Lightyear condition leads to a flash of trouble for Larry. He’s suave, bold and heroic but ultimately damaged in the lack of awareness of his true self. Rebel Wilson irritated me from the first time I saw the trailer, I never got why they couldn’t hire a Brit to play a Brit, her accent is poor and her character is downright incapable and dumb.
Ricky Gervais too is another major weak point of this film, his style of humour not ever working for this run of movies. His squealing and Brent style awkwardness is even more pronounced in this film and it’s a sad state of affairs when this film brings together him and Wilson for a worrying threat of more spotlighting on them. The doppelganger of Larry is a childish implement of humour never doing much and their back and forth of mis-communication is annoying not funny. Also unlike the first movie, this one feels like it’s stitched on the more emotional side of things as an after thought. It never has big legs to stand on and though Lancelot and Larry do finally say or do things to bond them again, it doesn’t feel real.
Skirting away from the many scatterings of issues this film has, I’ll move onto the more positive notes. There are some very, very fun and enjoyable sequences. Lancelot battling a skeletal dinosaur is great, an immersion into a painting provides arty imagery and head cocking angles for some of the cast to run up, down and sideways in. Slivers of the story keep interest, such as Dick Van Dyke’s reprise and his legacy in the realm of the tablet.
The two strongest parts of this film lie in the sentiment and a phenomenally fun cameo. I won’t spoil the surprise but a couple of guest stars show up and practically steal the show. The sentimental tone wavers but when it rests in the green it hits it well. The near ending goodbyes really show how this film can deliver on emotion, of course the sad and untimely passing of Robin Williams goes some way towards this but Larry and his longtime exhibit mates parting is softly handled. I even have to go and admit that Stiller with Dexter and then Teddy made me shed a couple of tears. It’s a damn shame a three years later scene upends this striking poetic end.
So yes, this film isn’t fantastic, it isn’t an altogether great way to end things either, considering it seems they’ve left the museum doors partly ajar. Harmless though and thanks to Stevens it works better than the previous offering. Let’s just hope there isn’t a red ticker tape for a new one opening.