Night At the Museum is a franchise that has become part of our national heritage. One of the reasons Ben Stiller’s night watchman is an iconic character is because he feels so at home at his museum. We learned that when Ben Stiller was growing up, more than a few times, he cut class and hung at the Natural History Museum on Central Park West. “And, in that era, you can be sure, I wasn’t there smoking clove cigarettes”.
Watch for the scene of Owen Wilson as Jedediah and Steve Coogan as Octavius, the two miniature men, being flown across the screen by the museum’s air exchange. Seeing their lives coming to an end, Octavius asks to hold Jedediah’s hand, for the first time indicating that these two best friends might love each other. I will suggest that this storyline finds legs as the movie moves along. Owen Wilson sitting next to the film’s director, Shawn Levy, explains that he loved flying and loved the scene where they realize that this might be the end. But then he and Shawn explain that the entire dialogue of the scene was written by the two actors while flying and while realizing that this might be the end.
It was that kind of love for the characters, that they could write what they felt in the moment. All actors agreed that under the direction of Shawn, they all had a certain amount of latitude in creating on the set. This collaboration has been continuing for all three movies and even newcomers to the team, Dan Stevens and Rebel Wilson bring their own sense of play to the set. Dan played Sir Lancelot, of the Knights of the Roundtable fame. He is a member of the team until his own agenda must outweigh the needs of all, and then he becomes the brutal antagonist who must be stopped or all of the life force in the characters will perish forever. With all his on screen charisma and charm, Dan’s Sir Lancelot is revealed as an antagonist we can watch forever. His favorite scene was the art and dance of his fight with the mythic snake (dragon) which he did on a set all by himself, as they computerized the giant anaconda around his movements. But as comedy would have it while he fights to the death, it is Larry the night watchman who comes to the rescue and slays the dragon with his flashlights. But thinking about the scene played against nothing, is a choreography worth note. By the way, Dan is as beautiful, charming and sexy off screen as he is on. Time to watch Downton Abbey to get more of him.
Rebel Wilson explained that her bubbly sexpot role was created by her understanding that she had a role to make strong by “Girl Power” and that became her great ally bringing the British Counterpart of Ben Stiller’s night watchman into her character. Her bubbly personality and her powerful performance not only steal every scene she’s in, but her character transforms from lonely night watchman sleeping on the job to the courier who comes back to save the exhibits at New York museum from expiring.
Shawn Levy is all smiles, totally attentive to the questions from the panel as he talks about Night at the Museum, Curse of the Tablet, as a story of a dad and his son. The crossroads that each character faces and the love that each character gives and receives as the real elements of life within the comedic farce that is how the movie’s story is told.
But the overriding story in this movie is and will always be the tribute to the co-star who was not being interviewed, Robin Williams. Shawn expressed his sadness at losing a friend and collaborator having worked with Robin on all three movies in this franchise they had spent much time together and as we all knew about Robin, he was given carte blanche in every scene he was in to bring more to his Teddy Roosevelt than was on the page. And in tribute to the fallen star, all on the panel express working with him was an experience they will never forget as everyday he brought joy and comedy to the set, the scene, and to the days work. The movie ends with the words with a final tribute to Robin Williams “The Magic Never Ends” but it was the final scenes where Teddy realizes he must retire and say goodbye to his friend Larry the Night Watchman that will bring a tear to everyone’s eyes, It was written and played with the longing and sadness built in, because the actors and director were aware this was the end of the franchise and they wanted the goodbye to be a bit sad. But, now everyone can see that life follows art, as Robin was in effect saying goodbye to the world audience.
When the exhibits at New York’s Natural History Museum start behaving strangely, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller)… — now the director of nighttime operations — must find out the cause. He learns that the Tablet, which magically brings Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and the other exhibits to life at night, has started to decay. Larry, along with his son and museum friends, must travel to London’s British Museum to learn how to prevent the Tablet’s magic from disappearing, and all live happily ever after, except of course, Robin, the comedic talent for two generations who will be remembered as a member of Hollywood’s elite.