The magic stone tablet that brings his exhibit friends to life is corroding, so Larry Daley (Stiller) must journey to London, find its creator and save the magic.
Another fantasy film trilogy wraps this winter, though with none of the hoohah of The Hobbit. For newbies, Night At The Museum is a family comedy series where an ancient magic tablet brings museum exhibits to rowdy life, with everyman Ben Stiller as hapless ringmaster. Now the tablet’s rusting, endangering the magic, and Stiller visits the British Museum to put things to rights. It’s a predictable product, barring a surprise crowdpleasing star cameo and a slightly edgy gag about the Biblical history between Jews and Pharaohs. Otherwise it’s panto business, bringing back the likes of Steve Coogan (miniature centurion), Owen Wilson (miniature cowboy) and Ricky Gervais (Stiller’s git boss). There are leaden patches, but also broadly amusing routines and ideas, like a space-warped fight inside an Escher painting. The end-credits pay tribute to two of the cast no longer with us: Mickey Rooney (a fleeting cameo) and Robin Williams.
Against the odds, perhaps, but part three injects a tiring franchise with new life and some surprisingly dark jokes. Some fun cameos and another winning Dan Stevens turn also add much needed unpredictability to the miniature goings-on.