Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Madagascar-3-reviewMadagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted  (2012)    DreamWorks/Comedy-Adventure    RT: 85 minutes    Rated PG (some rude humor and mild action violence)    Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon    Screenplay: Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach    Music: Hans Zimmer    Release date: June 8, 2012 (US)    Voices: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights.     

Rating: fullstar1fullstar1fullstar1star-empty1

 It's time to move it, move it .... again. That's right, our four animal friends- Alex the lion (Stiller, Night at the Museum), Marty the zebra (Rock, Grown Ups), Melman the giraffe (Schwimmer, Friends) and Gloria the hippopotamus (Smith, The Matrix Reloaded)- are back in an all new animated adventure. In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the intrepid foursome wreaks havoc all over Europe in their continuing efforts to make it back to the Central Park Zoo, the place they called home until that fateful excursion to the outside world in the first movie. As the latest chapter opens, those darn pesky penguins have left our heroes stranded in Africa while they party it up in Monte Carlo. Alex and company (including the three lemurs) swim to Monte Carlo to try and make those penguins take them home. As usual, their clever plan doesn't go exactly as planned and they cause a panic at a casino when they come crashing through the ceiling. Animal control officer Captain DuBois (McDormand, Fargo) gets called in and she's the last person they want on their .... uh, tails? Instead of capturing them and returning them to New York, she intends to kill them and keep their heads as trophies. After a wild chase through the streets and skies of Monaco, they end up in a train yard where they hitch a ride on a circus train. It takes some effort though, initially Russian tiger Vitaly (Cranston, Breaking Bad) doesn't want them around, but they manage to convince him that they're circus animals themselves and a couple of the other animals- Gia the jaguar (Chastain, The Tree of Life) and Stefano the sea lion (Short, Three Amigos)- allow them to come along on their tour.

Madagascar 3 It turns out to be very serendipitous for the foursome as the travelling circus' ultimate destination (after stopovers in Rome and London) happens to be New York .... how cool is that? Although Vitaly still doesn't want them around, he hasn't much of a choice after the penguins use their ill-gotten winnings from the casino to purchase the failing circus. It's up to Alex and his friends to turn things around for the circus and make it a successful venture. Meanwhile, Captain DuBois hasn't given up her pursuit and they have to stay on their toes to avoid capture. I must admit that Madagascar 3 is the best installment of the franchise and that's mainly because it's the most vibrant and action packed chapter. The computer animation really stands out this time and it looks even cooler in 3-D .... yes, I put out the money to see it in 3-D and the process actually adds to the experience. The kiddies should enjoy seeing their favorite characters jump off the screen and right into their popcorn buckets, the adults will appreciate how the process makes the European locations pop out of the screen. The climax of the picture is especially colorful as the circus animals mount a rescue mission to save our heroes from certain doom at the hands of the mean animal control officer. It looks just like something out of a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show, it's a visual stroke of genius. Although I'm getting bored with the whole computer animation thing, it looks surprisingly fresh here. The action sequences are truly exciting, especially the wild chase through Monaco with the penguins tearing up the road in car whose license plate reads EAT CAKE (a gag for the adults forced to bring their small ones). There's so much going on (visually and narratively) that its 85 minutes just flies.  

 It's also the funniest installment in the franchise and that's thanks to the additon of Captain Chantel DuBois. She's a meanie on the level of Cruella de Vil who literally relies on her animalistic instincts to track down our heroes, she sniffs the ground like a dog and takes off when she catches their scent. The writers make the wise decision to keep in mind that the audience for Madagascar 3 includes adults and make sure that they include humor that will go right over the heads of the younger viewers. At one point, DuBois belts out a rendition of the Edith Piaf song "Non je ne regrette ren" and I defy anybody to show me a grade schooler who's even heard of her. Thre's also a great throwaway reference to the cheap pharmaceuticals in Canada. There's also a hilarious romantic subplot involving King Julien (Cohen, The Dictator) and a tricycle riding bear who shows her affection by placing his entire little body in her mouth (YUCK!). The wonderful cast of actors who lend their voices bring the characters to animated life and, once again, each character gets a chance to shine. And that brings me to what's quickly becoming the buzz clip of the summer, Marty the zebra singing a ditty called "Circus Afro". Undoubtedly you've seen this clip repeated ad nauseum in the trailers and commercials over the past few months. Personally, I still find this bit hysterically funny and I predict that stores won't be able to keep rainbow-colored Afro wigs on the shelves come Halloween. It's as funny as "Spider Pig" from 2007's The Simpsons Movie (yes, I still laugh at that one too!). The closing credits sequences features a mashup of the old theme song ("I Like To Move It, Move It") and the new one ("Circus Afro") that should have the small ones boogieing out of the theater. And if this one does well, and I've no reason to think that it won't, the filmmakers leave things open for a fourth movie. Madagascar 3 is the perfect movie for the kids to see after school lets out for the summer and it's likely that the adults won't mind watching it either.

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