I’ve been meaning to post this for a while – don’t worry if you haven’t seen the film, no spoilers here!
Night at the Museum 3: The Secret of the Tomb begins in Indiana Jones territory: a boy, on an archaeological expedition, in the past, who of course stumbles upon the tomb they all seek. The Raiders references are dished up on a plate for the grown-ups, before we are whisked off to modern-day museum-land for all the CGI we can eat.
This makes it sound as if I didn’t enjoy the film, which is untrue. It has special effects, swordfighting, comic capers, and the old favourites return – look, there’s Cecil, still dancing! Add in the families-and-letting-go themes, and the bittersweetness of watching Robin Williams in one of his final film roles, and it’s a rollercoaster ride.
But slowly, I realised that, despite the bursting package, there was still something missing. Where are the women? Larry’s ex-wife, Nick’s mother, is mentioned but not seen. Sacagawea comes along for the ride, but she doesn’t get her own adventure, and at one point she literally fades into the background. There are a few incidental women – the institute chair, an administrator – but they vanish as quickly as they appear.
The glorious exception is Tilly, Rebel Wilson’s fast-talking, irrepressible security guard, who steals the scene every time she appears. One woman.
Sure, you could argue that having Nick’s mum around might have detracted from the father-son theme, or that Larry doesn’t have to have a love interest in every film, or that maybe the museums depicted don’t have enough prominent representations of women in them, so it wasn’t the film’s fault.
I checked out the cast lists according to credits order for all three films on IMDB, and the results are in:
|Night at the Museum||NM2||NM3|
|Rebecca (museum guide) – 2nd||Amelia Earhart – 2nd||Tilly (security guard)– 7th|
|Erica (Larry’s ex) – 9th||Sacagawea – 15th||Sacagawea – 11th|
|Sacagawea – 15th|
The slipping in the prominence of women in the series worries me. We have here an adventure film, a family film, a big Christmas blockbuster, showing kids that women don’t really have a place on an adventure. I doubt my two small boys even noticed the absence of female characters. But one notable woman, in a big-budget family adventure, just isn’t enough. I’m hoping that we get a fourth film with Rebel Wilson as top billing, and some more female museum pieces. Come on Hollywood, make it happen.