'Museum' Finale Exhibits Sly Intelligence

By Foundas, Scott | Variety, December 16, 2014 | Go to article overview

'Museum' Finale Exhibits Sly Intelligence


Foundas, Scott, Variety


The past may be immortal, but not so the reanimating magic that turns New York's American Museum of Natural History into a duskto-dawn happy hour for dinosaurs and Neanderthals, explorers and conquerors, and a capuchin monkey with an overactive bladder. Such is the dilemma this motley crew (once more under the leadership of Ben Stiller's harried night watchman) faces in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," a most enjoyable capper to director Shawn Levy and producer Chris Columbus' cheerfully silly and sneakily smart family-entertainment juggernaut. A fond farewell, to the series and to two of its stars - Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams - "Tomb" offers few surprises, but should add much holiday cheer to Fox's box office coffers.

The "Night" movies haven't much endeared themselves to highbrow critics, but it's easy to understand the popular appeal of the franchise ($987 million worldwide and counting), which has cannily married state-of-the-art special effects to a high-concept premise (loosely adapted from Croatian author Milan TYenc's 1993 children's book). At the same time, the films have entertained a slyly subversive commentary on Americans and our relationship to history.

In the first film, the museum was in the midst of declining attendance and budget cuts, until word got out about the institution's enchanted nighttime special effects - the Disneyfication of history, if you will - and lines formed around the block. That satiric edge was dulled only slightly in the 2009 sequel, "Battle of the Smithsonian," as a still-beleaguered repository willingly divested itself of some of its venerable exhibits to make room for high-tech holographic avatars supposedly more appealing to the smartphone generation. So it's unsurprising that "Secret of the Tomb" brings things full circle by suggesting, gently but persistently, that the true magic of history needs no hocus-pocus accoutrements.

The path to such enlightenment is paved with 90-odd minutes of CGI-enhanced slapstick mayhem, starting with a black-tie dinner from hell - a gala reopening of the Hayden Planetarium during which the museum's lauded "animatronics" (as the public believes them to be) go haywire, pitting Manhattan's philanthropic elite against a rampaging T. rex and Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher). Something is amiss, it seems, with the gilded Tablet of Akmenrah, the ancient Egyptian relic responsible for the museum's mysterious powers. Solving the mystery entails making a trip to the British Museum, home of Akmenrah's parents, Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley) and Shepseheret (Anjali Jay).

Of course, a new museum means a raft of other new characters, the standouts being "Downton Abbey" alum Dan Stevens as a vainglorious Sir Lancelot, and Rebel Wilson (clearly constrained by the movie's PG rating) as the Brit archive's sex-starved night guard. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Museum' Finale Exhibits Sly Intelligence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.