Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) want to go home.  It’s a Madagascar movie which has a basic concept of cute animals needing to go from point A to point B so they need to go somewhere to make this movie happen.  The word ‘Go’ being the operative term here in regards to ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’, or maybe ‘Busy’ if you want to add a couple more letters.

The last time we saw our four heroes, we thought they were happy roaming the planes of Africa, but better than average box receipts from the last film proved that they weren’t happy at all and want to go back home to New York, back to the zoo.  Yes, we recognize this is the equivalent of wanting to return to a maximum security prison, but we will roll with it.  Problem is that this return back to New York is dependent on those mischievous penguins doing something they said they would do, and knowing the penguins as we do, they can’t always be trusted.  As such, it is up to our four furry friends to make the trip to Monte Carlo so that the penguins can fulfill their end of the deal.  Now I know this is a kids movie and all and we shouldn’t get caught up in this kind of minutia, but I’m thinking if a Hippo, a Lion, a Giraffe and Zebra can make it from Africa to Monte Carlo without too much trouble, then they should probably be able to make to New York without too much trouble either, but again… we will roll with it.

Regardless, the trip to Monte Carlo results in mayhem and chaos and grabs the attention of psycho Animal Control Officer Chantel Dubois (Francis McDormand) who wants them all dead.  To escape, our heroes make the acquaintance of a ragtag circus led by the morose Russian Tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) who doesn’t trust no New Yorkers, and rightfully so.  Because New Yorkers are inherently untrustworthy.  I don’t think that, personally, but this is what they were inferring. 

It gets kind of out there from here on but Alex needs to whip this circus into shape, think Circus Soleil, so that a big-time promoter will notice them and take them to New York.  Again, these animals have the wherewithal to buy a circus but they can’t stow away on a freighter or something?  We’re rolling with it.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that this revamped circus is awesome and stuff, Alex and them did kind of lie to these circus animals, thus issues of friendship, trust and betrayal will surface, Captain DuBois is still on the hunt, true friendship will shine through… yada yada yada… Oh wait, I’m distracted because the ferret is dancing again.  I love that dancing ferret.

It wasn’t really a criticism, but I did observe in the last Madagascar movie, a film that I thought was perfectly okay, that the kids in the audience that I was seated at were strangely quiet.  It appears that the Powers that Be at Dreamworks SKG must’ve heard some rumblings about that phenomenon in the previous film and decided to fix it.  This time around we have a movie that is so busy and so hectic and so action filled that it’s almost dizzying.  I mean this movie goes and goes and goes some more, and just when you were thinking… hoping… it was going to slow down a little, it goes even faster.  If you have any kind problem with flashing, hyperkinetic action coupled with over saturated colors all flying at you through the glorious Third Dimension, then you might want to trick some gullible, oblivious neighbor or family member to take the kids to this one because this movie just might give you a migraine.

The thing about all this action and color overload, though the kids might like it more this time around, ‘Madagascar 3’ was at its best and at its most amusing when our animated friends were just sitting around talking to each other.  There are a few genuinely clever and funny dialog bits stuck in this movie here and there, and the movie does have a stellar cast of actors voicing these characters who are easily able to execute these humorous tidbits, but these brief moments are sooooo put on the back burner of this movie. 

Of course all of this action and all of these bright colors are expertly animated and rendered, I mean this is a Dreamworks animation and when it comes to the actual business of animating this CGI stuff they are arguably even better at this than Pixar, but needless to say Pixar tells better stories. 

But when it comes to these animated movies, I always defer to the children because this is who it is ultimately made for, and the few kids at the screening I attended seemed to love this movie, much more so than the one before it which in my view was a much better movie.  But the kids have spoken, ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ gets their seal of approval no matter how hard I was wishing the animators would take their foot off the gas pedal.

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