A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb follows the same formula as the first two movies (Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian), this time taking Larry and his gang of historical friends on the road to London. Expect more of the same slapstick (and sometimes crude) humor fans will already be familiar with. Some kids might find a few scenes scary -- ancient statues come to life, a giant snake attacks the group, characters are trapped by a volcano's fiery output, and at one point it appears as if significant characters have died -- and there's talk that the "end will come." There's also some flirting and kissing between a Neanderthal and a security guard, as well as mild language ("hell," etc.) and a little drinking. While this installment isn't as lively as the first two, it does have positive messages about friendship and loyalty.
What's the story?
The ancient tablet of Akmenrah is starting to die away -- and with it the magic that brought the exhibits in New York's Museum of Natural History to life. Night security guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) takes the gang -- including Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams in one of this last roles), Octavius (Steve Coogan), and Jedediah (Owen Wilson) -- to London to find out whether Akmenrah's parents know the secret that will save them all ... or if the end truly has come.
Is it any good?
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB is very similar in plot and themes to the first two Night at the Museum movies, but unfortunately it's much less fun. Larry is still a sad sack, only this time he's worried what his son, Nick (now a high school senior), will do with his life, as well as how he can save his friends at the museum. Stiller is frankly phoning it in for this last installment of the franchise (he's a bit better in his other role as the Neanderthal who thinks he's Larry's son); the times when the movie really comes to life are when Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) bursts into a scene with sword drawn as Sir Lancelot. And Ben Kingsley and Ajali Jay are perfect as pharaohs with the key to keeping the magic alive, and there are a couple of fun cameos near the end.
But overall there's not enough to make Secret of the Tomb worth seeing unless you're a diehard fan of the first two. The most poignant scenes occur not so much because of what's happening in the film, but because it's one of Williams' last appearances -- he played Roosevelt in all three movies. Not to give away too much, but he says goodbye in a touching way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the message behind all of the action and fancy effects. Why is it important to help your friends?
There are a few times when characters (Lancelot, Nick) feel like they're not being heard. Do you ever feel the same way? How do you handle it?
Did you notice anything in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb that wasn't historically accurate or was different from what you've learned in school? How could you find out more about the famous people and figures depicted here?
Larry has a hard time letting Nick make his own decisions. Do you think Nick should be allowed to decide whether or not he wants to go to college? Kids: What decisions do you wish were up to just you?
- In theaters: December 19, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: March 10, 2015
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson
- Director: Shawn Levy
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action, some rude humor and brief language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.