TIME movies

Review: Did Anyone Have a Good Time Making Night at the Museum 3?

Nothing comes to life in this rote, trite finale to the kid-friendly fantasy franchise

M.C. Escher’s “Relativity,” the 1953 lithograph that plays with gravity and perspective, receives a delightful tweak in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Larry the night watchman (Ben Stiller) and his antique colleagues Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) tumble into and scramble through the sideways stairways of Escher’s surreal courtyard. The scene is a compact epiphany of physical, borderline-metaphysical comedy — nearly as funny and impressive as Andrew Lipson and Daniel Shiu’s LEGO version of “Relativity.” Pushing the trope further, the producers commissioned a clever elaboration that’s used as a poster for the movie. Congratulations to all involved!

Sorry, but this concludes any warm comments about the third episode in the Night at the Museum series, a kid-aimed fantasy franchise that imagines the stuffed or wax figures at New York’s American Museum of Natural History coming to life and cavorting each night. Director Shawn Levy extended the 2006 original with a 2009 sequel set in Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. Because the two films earned almost $1 billion at the global box office, simple corporate math demanded a third installment, this time with a trip to the British Museum. The world tour might have extend to the Louvre or the Hermitage in future sequels, but apparently this is it.

A good thing too, since Secret of the Tomb gives every evidence of franchise exhaustion. In the screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman, Larry and the gang travel to London to find out why the ancient Egyptian tablet that is the source of the museum figures’ revived lives has gone on the fritz. At the British Museum they encounter Lancelot, who has hard time adjusting to the 21st century and comes close to bolloxing Larry’s mission to save his old, old friends. The movie is content to reprise bits from the first two entries, and the few innovations — such as giving Larry a caveman double (also played by Stiller) — are rote, trite and feeble.

Did anyone have a good time making this movie? The actors seem to be reading their lines at gunpoint, in an enterprise whose mood is less summer camp than internment camp. Such exemplary comic spirits as Ricky Gervais (the AMNH’s director), Steve Coogan (the Roman soldier Octavius) and Owen Wilson (the antique cowboy Jedediah) have the look of abandonment, as if hoping that some prompter from the sides will whisper a line more deliverable than what the script has told them to say. “Get me a rewrite!” say these faces, frozen in a rictus of embarrassment.

Mickey Rooney, who died in April at 93, makes a brief appearance here in a wheelchair. Williams, in the last on-screen role he completed before his death this Aug., seems unusually muted, but he simply could have been interpreting the character as written. (The movie is dedicated to these two comedy immortals.) The only performers who suggest they’re enjoying themselves are Dick Van Dyke, in a spry cameo as a Natural History night watchman emeritus, and Crystal the Monkey, a scene-swiping Capuchin whose capers include peeing on the tiny figures of Octavius and Jedediah, during a Pompeii lava scene, and planting big smooches on every human in sight.

I could go on, but making jokes about failed movies is not my favorite part of this job. Besides, you already get the idea. Some day soon, the “Relativity” scene will be on YouTube. See that part of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and skip the rest.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 16

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Scores Killed in Taliban Attack

A Pakistani official says that more than 126 people have been killed, mostly schoolchildren, in a Taliban attack on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Witnesses said gunmen stormed the school and started shooting at random

Who Was Man Haron Monis?

The Sydney hostage taker who died in a shootout has been identified as Man Haron Monis. The 50-year-old was being investigated for murder and sexual assault

Camille Cosby Defends Bill

The actor’s wife fiercely defended her husband in a statement Monday as outrage mounts over allegations he drugged and raped multiple women

29 Instagram Photos That Defined the World in 2014

TIME, in association with the photo-sharing app, takes a look back at the key moments of 2014: From the toll of war in Gaza to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and from the border between Mexico and the U.S. all the way to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone

U.S. Surgeon General Confirmed Despite Gun-Control Support

The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General on Monday despite concerns he was underqualified and too outspoken on gun control to be the top spokesman on public-health matters. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is the only Republican to confirm Murthy

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Tattooing Your Pet Is Now Illegal in N.Y.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday. The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers

Mother of Tamir Rice: He Had No Chance Against Police

Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun, said Monday that he was never given a chance to follow officers’ orders when they pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground

Adrian Peterson, NFL Exec Suspension Discussion Leaked

The NFL’s executive vice president for football operations Troy Vincent appeared to tell Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson that he would only be suspended for two games, according to recordings of their conversation that surfaced on Monday

Ebola Coverage Has Been Dubbed ‘Lie of the Year’

Guess what spawned a “dangerous and incorrect narrative” in 2014? Fact-checking website PolitiFact says erroneous statements about the Ebola epidemic edged the U.S. “toward panic,” and led to misinformation and fear toward people thousands of miles away

London Crawling: Scientists Name Snail After Clash Singer

A new genus of snail has been named after Joe Strummer, leader of iconic British rock band The Clash, “because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment,” said researcher Shannon Johnson

66 Journalists Killed in 2014: Report

At least 66 journalists were killed across the globe this year while another 178 media workers were imprisoned, according to monitoring outlet Reporters Without Borders. The watchdog organization noted that attacks on journalists are becoming increasingly barbaric

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TIME

Robin Williams’ Napa Valley Estate Hits The Market for $25.9 Million

The 639-acre property has been reduced

Three and a half months after the death of Robin Williams, the beloved actor’s Napa Valley estate has been listed for sale.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that the Good Morning, Vietnam star’s longtime home was once listed in 2012 for $35 million and has recently hit the market again at a reduced $29.5 million. According to THR, the property consists of a “20,000-square-foot, three-story main house [with] five bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a screening room and climate-controlled storage for wine and art. There is also a four-bedroom caretaker’s house nearby. Outdoor amenities include infinity and lap pools, a nine-stall horse barn, tennis court, hiking trails and a spring-fed pond for bass fishing.”

Apparently the estate had been nicknamed Villa Sorriso, which means Villa of Smiles.

Williams killed himself on Aug. 11 at his home in Tiburon, Calif. He was 63.

[THR]

 

TIME celebrities

Robin Williams’ Son to Throw First Pitch to Billy Crystal During World Series Game 5

The Comedy Awards 2012 - Red Carpet
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Zachary Pym Williams and Robin Williams attend The Comedy Awards 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage) Kevin Mazur—WireImage

Crystal was a close friend of the late actor

Robin Williams’ son, Zak, will throw the first pitch to actor Billy Crystal at Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night, MLB announced on Twitter.

Crystal was a close friend of Williams, who took his own life at age 63 in August this year. Crystal also gave a moving tribute to Williams at the 2014 Emmy Awards.

The San Francisco Giants will play the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 tonight. Williams lived in the San Francisco area and was a major figure in the city’s comedy scene.

TIME celebrities

Zelda Williams Honors Father Robin Williams With New Tattoo

The comic actor's daughter shared her new tattoo on Instagram

Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams, has etched a tribute to her late father onto her hand.

Williams’ tattoo, seen on Instagram, is of a small hummingbird floating on the side of her hand. Her father’s birth date, “7.21.51,” is beneath the bird, on her wrist.

“For poppo,” Williams wrote. “I’ll always put my hand out to shake with a smile.”

For poppo. Thank you to the incomparable @dr_woo_ssc for so beautifully bringing my reminders to life. I'll always put my hand out to shake with a smile. As for this Instagram, I don't know in what capacity I'll continue using it in the future, but I'm leaving it up regardless so that fake accounts hoping to use my name or misuse my family's photos will get no traction. To be clear, this is MY ONLY account. Publicly, I have Twitter, and this. If other people post quotes and photos claiming to be me or my family, please, do not send them personal information or click links, even for charity. They could be utilizing sympathy to scam you. For the record, no one has ever or will ever speak for me but me. Thank you.

A photo posted by Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) on

The Instagram post is Williams’ first since she quit the image-sharing site two months ago, after her father took his own life. Williams had said in August that she was being harassed by social-media users taunting her with gruesome, Photoshopped images of her dad, and that users were mining her account for pictures of her and the much beloved actor, as well as making conclusions about their private relationship.

In her latest post, she warned users about fake Instagram accounts purporting to be her.

“For the record, no one has ever or will ever speak for me but me,” she said. “Thank you.”

TIME Comedy

Brains Behaving Badly: Why So Many Comedians End Up Self-Destructing

Robin Williams Death
"Na-Nu Na-nu."
Mork (Mork & Mindy)
JIim Britt—ABC/Getty Images

The comic and Simpsons writer explores why so many stand-ups get into staring contests with the abyss

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

Being a professional comedian brings with it a set of unintended consequences. For one thing, you develop an uncanny familiarity with the nation’s airports. “Where are you, St. Louis International? They’ve got a pretty ripping Oki-Dog in terminal four.”

Additionally, stand-up comedians have to ask for their paychecks. Did you know that? At the end of the week, when performing in a club, we actually have to track down the club owner and ask to get paid. In all fairness, most of them are cool about it. But as I’ve said before, when it comes to club owners, it’s hard to believe the occupation that gave the world Jack Ruby could produce some unsavory characters.

Lastly, being a comedian means knowing a lot of people who’ve committed suicide.

MORE: Ben Stiller Remembers Robin Williams: ‘He Represented What it Meant to Be Funny’

My count is now up to five. Five of my friends and fellow comedians have taken their own life. It ‘s shocking, but, sadly, not surprising. Non-comedians — or as we call them, “civilians” — are always surprised. And I am always surprised they’re so surprised. They have yet to realize the Two Big Things all comedians know.

Firstly, the same brain that makes the good stuff makes the bad stuff. Is it really so shocking that an engine that can propel a car from zero to 100 mph in six seconds can do pretty much the same thing in reverse? Comedians dwell on things. They ponder, stew, obsess and spin out scenarios for comedic effect. The more inventive the mind, the funnier the scenarios. The genius of a great comedian is the ability to stride onstage and make it look like all of those amazing ideas are flowing naturally, in the moment and off-the-cuff. But don’t be fooled. A lot of after-hours thought, poured into notebook after notebook, goes into that stuff. Late nights alone with a hyperactive imagination, however, is also when you can get into a lot of trouble.

Into this mix, one has to consider brain chemistry. A lot has been written about the actual, physical chemistry of the creative brain, and I’ve read none of it. That said, it’s obvious to even the casual observer that our greatest minds were housed in brains that behaved very badly.

MORE: Robin Williams: Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito and More Pay Homage

Charles Darwin suffered clinical depression, yet he managed to come up with the theory of evolution. Mozart, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway all lived in prisons of their own thought. The roll call of contemporary artists who have suffered a depressive disorder is so long, they could save time by just printing up the list of those who haven’t.

Some of that list makes sense. It’s easy to believe that Elliot Smith suffered from depression. Or Bob Dylan. Or Anthony Hopkins. But David Letterman? Jim Carrey? Or, as we so recently and tragically learned, Robin Williams? Really, Robin Williams? And that leads us to The Other Big Thing.

Being funny is not the same as being happy. This is an area to which I can speak with some expertise. False modesty aside, I have always been pretty funny. My elementary school report cards cite my “hyperactive imagination,” and my “proclivity towards being talkative.” I was also insecure, terrified and so crammed full of anxiety that I could barely function. Why? Because of my “hyperactive imagination.” One day I came home from school and could not find my mother. She had gone next door to visit our neighbor and lost track of time. How did she know I was home? Because she heard me screaming.

Having my mother not answer when I called her name, at eight years old, did not mean I had license to watch cartoons and stuff my face until she showed up. It meant something had happened. She had been taken away and I was now alone and defenseless in a hostile world. How would I eat? Who would take care of me? Was she dead? Who killed my mother?! Was I next?! Of course I screamed. I screamed and screamed and scr – “Oh, hi, mom. There you are. I was just wondering where you’d stepped away to. No, I didn’t piss myself, I accidentally spilled a glass of urine on my underwear before slipping my pants on and it must have soaked through. Say, what did you make of the President’s speech last night?”

MORE: Robin Williams’ Life in Photos

How to deal with this free-floating and oft-visiting, inexplicable panic? I became talkative, in general, and funny in particular. After all, if you’re going to run your mouth all day, you should at least be entertaining. Like many comedians, I put my nightmare machine of a brain to work in a creative capacity. Being funny allowed me to contextualize my anxiety and, also, allowed me a little relief from it.

Laughing and screaming are physiological cousins; both used by the body to release anxiety and tension. In terms of comedians, when the chicken-and-egg question of, “which came first, the sad or the funny” is raised, I can, with authority, say that the egg of acute anxiety begat the rubber chicken of inspired hilarity. In other words, I literally laughed to keep from crying. As do so many.

One of the comedians I fell in love with as a kid, and who remained a lifelong hero, was George Carlin. In 2005, Carlin released his 13th HBO special, entitled Life Is Worth Losing. If you’d like to see a skilled stand-up comic using his creative muscles to get some distance from a raging storm of emotional turmoil, you will find no better example. Performed on a set depicting a cemetery in winter, the show is a meditation on the futility of life, the savagery of man, the fallacy of religion — and forever circling back to the topic of suicide, as if it were some mordant motif.

MORE: The 50 Funniest People Now

Suicide is an undeniably fascinating subject, and one that has been well pondered by our greatest minds, comedic and otherwise, most probably because it hits so close to home in our psyches. In our worst moments, it’s there, like a firehose behind a glass case, waiting to be busted out should the shit get too thick. In lieu of that, we must learn to cope.

Those of us whose emotional states are stable and manageable, and who haven’t condemned ourselves to the hell of addiction in our clumsy attempts at self-medicating, do the best we can, by trial and error, to live a regular life. We try our hardest, every day, to masquerade as a normal person. A civilian. All the while poring over our faults and failings through our work. For money! It’s a symbiotic system that can really pay off if you play your cards right. Not that material success is important.

This is another lesson you need to learn if you desire to go beyond just coping, if actual happiness is one of your goals. In fact, not long ago, I was sitting in the kitchen of a fellow comedian where I saw a sign that brought that point home. It sat atop his cabinets, and read, “Forget What You Want, Look At What You Have.” I remember thinking that this man, who had a career like no one could ever hope to dream of, stand-up success, sitcom success, movie stardom, he’d even won an Oscar, and yet, he was humble, gracious, sincere, caring. He knew where happiness lay. He, who had so much, still knew what was important and what was not. “This guy,” I thought, “he’s really got it together.”

I miss him.

TIME public apologies

It’s Time for Celebrities To Apologize—For All Their Apologizing

Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins Ben Horton—WireImage

Can we please stop embarrassing ourselves by pretending these apologies mean anything and admit they are simply a bloodless way to satisfy our bloodlust?

I am disgusted with Henry Rollins. How could he be so insensitive? What he said about Robin Williams was extraordinarily offensive and hurtful. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in free speech, but the things he said were way over the line. He definitely owed everyone an apology.

Okay. Thanks for indulging me. I just wanted to see what it felt like to actually write those things: fairly shallow and ridiculous, as I expected. But it seems like if you want attention in 2014, all you need to do is demand an apology from someone, for something.

The predictable cycle of outrage and apology is Western Civilization’s newest craze. Since Robin Williams’ suicide, Todd Bridges has apologized for calling it “a very selfish act”; Shepard Smith has apologized for having the nerve to question whether it made Williams a coward; Rollins apologized for his opinions on suicide in general; Gene Simmons has gone back and apologized for things he said about depression and suicide in an interview that had nothing to do with Robin Williams whatsoever.

All four of these men made the critical error of giving opinions on suicide that didn’t fit a polite narrative. Which in 2014 means each of them must bow their heads and apologize—or suffer the witch-hunt consequences of having an unpopular opinion. Questioning or criticizing someone’s decision to commit suicide is not insensitive or unfeeling. It’s a part of the open and honest and difficult conversation we claim to want.

We cannot continue to delude ourselves into thinking we value such conversations when what we really value is publicly flogging anyone who contributes something to the conversation that we find disagreeable. Or—brace yourselves—offensive. For a country that claims to want an open dialogue, and to treasure free speech, we sure seem to enjoy mob justice against people who give an opinion contrary to the one we are comfortable hearing. Instead of physically beating someone to death, we feign shock, outrage and emotional anguish, until the person (or more likely the publicist) breaks down and begs our forgiveness.

Can we please stop embarrassing ourselves by pretending these apologies mean anything to anybody and own up to the fact they are simply a bloodless way to satisfy our bloodlust? Why exactly is it such a social crime to talk about the selfish nature of committing suicide? Why do people respond to such points by angrily stating how much pain the individual was in? Can’t both opinions be valid? Being in pain and behaving selfishly are not mutually exclusive.

I am not an expert in depression or suicide. What I know about suicidal feelings comes only from what I’ve experienced, not case studies or statistics. But I can tell you what it’s like to look over the edge of a cliff and convince yourself that jumping is the only option. In those moments, I saw only my own pain and was convinced that I would be doing nothing more than wiping a valueless person off the face of the earth.

Just because I was in pain doesn’t mean I wasn’t also thinking selfishly. That’s not to say that anyone who commits suicide is selfish, but it’s an observation one shouldn’t be crucified for making.

Which brings me back to apologies. Our cultural obsession with them isn’t about actually being offended, or simply needing to hear, “I’m sorry.” It’s not really about right or wrong. It’s about wanting to throw a rock in the dark and hear something break.

In the increasingly deafening and constantly morphing conversations on social media, it becomes more and more impossible for an individual and his or her opinions to stand out or to be heard. Going on Twitter or Facebook to gently voice dissatisfaction about something that someone said garners the same results as walking into a New Year’s Eve party and muttering to yourself in the corner. No one hears you or cares; it’s the ultimate form of social emasculation. It feels small and helpless.

But if you can get a few people at the party to scream with you at the same time, the rest of the people, who are enjoying themselves, will be forced to stop their revelry and take notice. And if, God forbid, you loudly announce you’ve been wounded, not only will everyone forget what they were saying and focus all of their attention on you; they will rally around you. They’ll listen to you. And most importantly, they’ll want to punish whoever hurt you.

No longer will you be the quiet person in the corner who has to live with the fact you heard something you didn’t like, you’ll be the one everyone is listening to and responding to and paying attention to.

Yet your offense at someone’s opinion should not be a precursor to further action. “I don’t like what you just said,” should end with a period, not a semicolon. When a celebrity offers a prescribed public apology, I feel nothing for them, and strangely embarrassed for the rest of us for requiring it. Even those of us who didn’t encourage the groveling are at best complicit because we watched the vultures circle instead of making some sort of effort to shoo them away.

We have become a country of voyeurs and rubberneckers who love nothing more than provoking a situation solely for the gratification of eliciting a response, then we convince ourselves we’re outraged so we can stand and watch the fire burn. A mouth full of broken teeth has been replaced with a tearful mea culpa in front of a bank of microphones.

The onslaught of fake outrage and insincere apologies is doing nothing to make our society a more compassionate, forgiving or understanding place. We are simply being trained to doubletalk and lie to avoid trouble. If we can’t think of a good lie or acceptable middle ground, we are taught to play it safe or say nothing at all.

And that makes me truly sorry. For all of us.

TIME Television

Watch Billy Crystal’s Moving Tribute to Robin Williams at the Emmys

Billy Crystal: "Robin Williams, what a concept"

 

The past year was a tough one for Hollywood when it came to saying goodbye to all the great talents who passed away. While pop star Sara Bareilles sang a touching rendition of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile,” the Emmy Awards acknowledged James Avery, Maya Angelou, Lauren Bacall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Casey Kasem, Don Pardo, Harold Ramis, Mickey Rooney, Elaine Stritch, Shirley Temple and many more before ending with a special tribute to Robin Williams from the late actor’s friend Billy Crystal.

“He was the greatest friend you could ever imagine,” Crystal said in the tribute. “It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives.”

Above, watch the Emmys’ heartfelt tribute, which certainly improves upon the unexpectedly brief 23-second tribute the MTV Video Music Awards threw together last night.

TIME Television

The VMAs Tribute to Robin Williams Was Exactly 23 Seconds Long

Yes, seriously

 

The VMAs tend to be highly organized, with introductions for every award and every act. But Robin Williams’ tribute went unannounced, lasted only 23 seconds, consisted of a few pictures and ended immediately without applause or explanation. Also, it was set, somewhat inexplicably, to Coldplay.

Expect the late comedian to get a much longer tribute at the 2014 Emmys.

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