Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Cast:
Ben Stiller as Alex (voice)
Chris Rock as Marty (voice)
David Schwimmer as Melman (voice)
Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria (voice)
Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII (voice)
Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice (voice)
Andy Richter as Mort (voice)
Frances McDormand as Captain Chantel DuBois (voice)
Bryan Cranston as Vitaly (voice)
Martin Short as Stefano (voice)
Jessica Chastain as Gia (voice)
Paz Vega as Carmen (voice)
Christopher Knights as Private (voice)
Tom McGrath as Skipper (voice)
Chris Miller as Kowalski (voice)

Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon

Summary:
Random physical gags and great use of 3D make “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” a fun sequel you never knew you wanted. It will please both kids and adults.

Story:
Immediately after the events of “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” Alex decides that he’s had enough of life in the African savannah. He wants to return to New York. Eager to help him, Marty, Melman, and Gloria agree to return with him, but in order to get home, they decide they’ll need the aid of the Penguins who are currently in Monte Carlo winning tons of cash at the casinos.

Once Alex and the gang arrive in Monte Carlo, it does not take long for them to incite a panic. As they race to get out of the city, they are pursued by the relentless animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois. She’s determined to collect the head of a lion for a trophy and she has her sights set on Alex. In order to hide from her, the gang falls in with a traveling circus, but in trying to return back to the zoo, Alex and his friends may find new purpose in the struggling circus.

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.

What Worked:
I might as well copy my reviews for the first two “Madagascar” movies because all of my comments for them hold true again. This was yet another sequel that I wasn’t clamoring for but ultimately enjoyed. It was yet another film in the series that both my kids and my wife and I enjoyed. And yet again the Penguins and King Julian stole the show from all of the other characters. In short, if you liked the previous films you’ll enjoy this one.

One of the best things about “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is the way the jokes come completely out of nowhere. For example, Mort pops out of a cake and declares, “My tummy is talking to me!” He then vomits up bright pink foam because he ate too much cake. That sent the audience into fits of laughter and disgust and was a joke that our family has been quoting for days after the screening. In another shocking moment, a bratty boy harasses an elephant at the circus by shooting peanuts at it. The scared elephant then falls backwards and sits on the boy. Then, I kid you not, we see the elephant running away in the background with the bully’s legs sticking out of its butt and kicking. This may be a cinematic first. It’s absolutely disgusting, but it got a lot of laughs… along with the vomit jokes. I swear we’re higher class than that, but it was funny. The whole film is filled with these completely random physical gags.

While the entire original cast returns in their usual form, a few new cast members are added. Most notable is Martin Short as Stefano the sea lion. While he’s done a fair amount of animation voice work in the past, this is his first performance that really stands out to me. He perfectly portrays the average intelligence circus seal. Bryan Cranston as the tiger Vitaly and Jessica Chastain as leopard Gia are unrecognizable, but it’s fun to see them both adding something so different to their diverse filmographies. Cranston was practically a cartoon character in “Malcolm in the Middle” anyway, but he’s much more understated here.

We saw this movie in 3D and it was pretty impressive. Melman’s neck stretches way out of the screen and into the audience. The Penguins go flying through the air and out of the screen. As Alex and Gia swing on the trapeze, you get a real sense of height. But a scene where Marty is shot out of a cannon really takes full advantage of the 3D effect. If you opt to see this in 3D, you’ll feel like you got your money’s worth.

What Didn’t Work:
These animals really can’t seem to make up their minds. First they want to go to the wild, and then back home. Then they want to get out of Africa, and then they want to stay. Now they want to go back to New York. I hope they’ve finally made up their mind to stay with the traveling circus! Otherwise this back and forth is getting old.

As I watched “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” I was kind of amused to think of how many organizations it managed to tick off. PETA is going to be mad because it glorifies animals in circuses. The Central Park Zoo is going to be mad because it portrays their zoo as a horrible prison for animals. Africa is going to be mad because it shows the animals wanting to get out of the place. Cirque du Soliel is going to be mad because they’re made fun of. The French are going to be annoyed because they’re made fun of. Basically the only people they probably won’t offend are the people with kids in the theater.

One other nitpick… this movie completely disregards the hilarious “Penguins of Madagascar” TV show on Nickelodeon. I suppose this takes place in some sort of parallel universe like with “Star Trek.”

The Bottom Line:
The kids loved it. The adults loved it. This means it’s a sure thing if you’re looking for a family movie outing. Go check it out in 3D and everyone should be happy.

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