After two forgettable takes, MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED gets a lot of things right
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
I don't really contemplate the MADAGASCAR movies in my spare time. Hard to believe, I know. But even when I'm thinking about my favorite animated movies in the last 10 years, or the best that computer-generated animation has given us lately, this lightweight franchise doesn't enter into the conversation. The stories always seemed overly simplistic and focused more on being broad and silly than creative (an animated film for kids can actually be all of those things in the right combination).
So, you can probably imagine the level of excitement that filled my soul when I sat down for the third MADAGASCAR chapter with the wildly original title EUROPE'S MOST WANTED. The good news is that my faux enthusiasm turned into genuine enjoyment during the course of this fun little ditty that seemed intent on throwing caution to the wind and giving audiences something so outlandish as to provide a whole lot of laughs mixed with a healthy dose of a slightly more grown-up story.
As in the last film, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are still trying to return to the Central Park Zoo from their other-side-of-the-world adventures in the first two films. I still love the randomness of their pal King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), a lemur who has clearly been doing too many drugs. Cohen infuses Julien with such a playful spirit and subtle adult humor that he wins every time he opens his mouth. But the real surprise is the Stiller and Rock finally step up the comedy in EUROPE'S MOST WANTED. I never thought either were particularly funny in the first two, but they both get off some great lines here.
The film's other nice new element are the addition of four new characters. The plot forces our heroes to join a traveling circus going by rail through Europe, and we are introduced to the tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), a jaguar named Gia (Jessica Chastain) and a bizarre sea lion Sefanto (Martin Short). All of the animals are being pursued by nasty animal control officer Dubois of Monte Carlo, played by Frances McDormand, whose character seems more interested in mounting heads than protecting the public. There's something about her that screams '40s villainess that I was particularly drawn to, while the three new animals have much greater sob stories about life in the circus than our heroes, making them far more sympathetic.
Look, I'm not trying to sell MADAGASCAR 3 as any kind of great achievement in either animation or storytelling, but after two sub-par films, it seems the filmmakers finally got a few more things right. Perhaps some of that has to do with the script, co-written by Noah Baumbach (who directed Stiller in one of his best roles to date in Greenberg) and Eric Darnell (who is one of the credited directors on the film). Who knows.
All I know is that the movie made me laugh a lot more than the first two, and I found the new characters interesting to a degree, especially compared to the main four leads. Weirdly, the films seem to be getting better as they add to the franchise. That certainly bodes well if they decide to make a fourth. If you are someone who is often put in charge of taking youngsters to the movies during the summer months, you could do a whole lot worse than MADAGASCAR 3.
-- Steve Prokopy
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June 8, 2012, 1:14 a.m. CST
Seriously, what type of people are going? Furries?
June 8, 2012, 1:20 a.m. CST
He's a guarantee of quality.
June 8, 2012, 1:22 a.m. CST
You Do know this is an animated series on TV RIGHT? With Julien who steals the show. I catch it alot with my kids and it's VERY entertaining.
June 8, 2012, 1:34 a.m. CST
Sorry can't help myself on that.
June 8, 2012, 1:40 a.m. CST
Weird that this and Ice Age seem to be getting better. Usually, for me anyway, animated sequels go downhill REAL fast. But I've enjoyed Madagascar and Ice Age more as they've gone along.
June 8, 2012, 3 a.m. CST
Hasnt been truly funny and relevant since the 90s. He's completely lost his comedic voice.
June 8, 2012, 3:04 a.m. CST
I agree that Cranston made Breaking Bad into arguably the best TV show ever, but his film career is surprisingly terrible, and his presence in a film far from guarantees quality. John Carter, Larry Crowne, Contagion, The Lincoln Lawyer--all flops and critically panned. Drive was okay though. And Total Recall will probably suck.
June 8, 2012, 3:35 a.m. CST
June 8, 2012, 3:36 a.m. CST
June 8, 2012, 3:47 a.m. CST
Bill and ted was the 80s man. I want to relive that asap.
June 8, 2012, 4:16 a.m. CST
Part 1 was, apart from the penguins, forgettable. A movie about nothing. Just a few animals, quoting popular movies on an island. But part 2 really got me with its surprisingly emotional opening, where we not just learn how the lion ended up in a zoo, but also saw how the people in NY mourned for the apparent death of their favourite zoo animals. And the movie didn't stop from there. The gags were better (the running gag with the shark and its solution still crack me up when I think about it), the characters grew on me, hell, even the Will I. Am songs were surprisingly good! Is it in my personal top 10 of animated movies? No. Not even in the top 10 of the last decade, but I think it's a lot better than most people give it credit for. (Which also counts for Dreamworks Animation in general. Since then they really got their shit together and produced movies in the quality range from "seriously good" [Megamind, Puss In Boots, Kung Fu Panda] to "totally fucking awesome" [How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 2])
June 8, 2012, 7:59 a.m. CST
YA-DA-DA-DEE-YA-DA-YA-DA, CIRCUS, YA-DA-DA-DEE-YA-YA-DA-DA-DA, AFRO, POLKA-DOT, POLKA-DOT, POLKA-DOT...!
by Nasty In The Pasty
Most annoying thing in a movie trailer since Ben Stiller imitating the mariachi band in The Heartbreak Kid (A-DIT-DIT-DIT-DIT! DEE-DE-DEE-DEE-DEE, GAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
June 8, 2012, 8:01 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
June 8, 2012, 8:25 a.m. CST
by Mr. Pricklepants
June 8, 2012, 10 a.m. CST
by F This
One that I actually enjoy watching with the kids. They took the best parts of Madagascar and made it into a funny, usually decently written show, with some actual characters.
June 8, 2012, 10:01 a.m. CST
Why can't there be animated movies where there aren't constant pop culture jokes? You know, jokes that kids will actually get? I get that the humor might be written so the parents can have a good time as well, but these movies might be too far over some kids heads
June 8, 2012, 12:47 p.m. CST
Ben Stiller. Might as well put Freddie Prinze Jr in there for milktoast bland unfunny potato heads. Jada (Miss Thaaang, wave finger tilt head) Pinkett. Egocentric Egomaniac riding on hubbies fame hack. David (wheres myh SONDWHICH?)Schwimmer. REALLY?
June 8, 2012, 2:29 p.m. CST
Madagascar 2 was better than one because of two reasons: More Penguins and the entertaining (bloated gasbag Ahole) Alec Baldwin ...
by Vince Ricardo
... if this has more Penguins plus the entertaining new character(s) mentioned, it should be Ok. The main four characters have been forgetful throughtout the first two films. Maybe they're better here? Maybe. The Penguins of Madagascar is not bad to watch with my sons, but the animation simply isn't up to par with the films (how could it be, on a weekly basis I guess) and it proves that too MUCH Penguins is also not the greatest thing in the world. There has to be a happy balance.
June 9, 2012, 10:44 p.m. CST
...in the second film. When I saw it, he had just died, and there was a moment in the film where the camera locked onto Zuba (the lion character Bernie voiced) and he talked for a few minutes about life in general, and it was almost like a tribute to the late voice actor; it was kind of poignant and eerie. I had no real feeling for Mac, except that he had one mean-looking set of eyes, but that scene got to me, for some reason. As for this one, I'll probably see it on DVD, if only to watch and hear Chris Rock do the "Afro Circus" bit. Funniest part of the trailers.
June 9, 2012, 11:22 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
June 10, 2012, 7:20 a.m. CST
Saw the first thirty minutes of it yesterday when I was theater-hopping. It was actually pretty decent. I'd not seen the first two. I'd consider watching it on DVD but I'm not a fan of sitting in a theatre full of children.
June 10, 2012, 4:43 p.m. CST
June 10, 2012, 8:23 p.m. CST
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