Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published June 2012
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Directed by Eric Darnell
Oh what a circus, oh what a show! Madagascar 3 is convoluted, manic, frenzied, colorful and funny enough for the entire family. This circus is a riot.
The third installment in the Madagascar animated series, Europe’s Most Wanted is a zippy, eye-candy-colored continuation of the Madagascar gang’s quest to return to New York’s Central Park Zoo.
The wacky bunch of Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) decide that home is not the wild plains of Africa but noisy city of New York.
The group manages to reach Monte Carlo, where the penguins are raising money for their trip to back the U.S. by playing in the casino. Their disturbance catches the eye of Europe’s most notorious animal control cop, Capt. Chantal Dubois (Frances McDormand), who is bent on capturing the animals. The only way the New Yorkers can escape her nasty grasp is to join a traveling circus, where they meet new friends – and possibly a new family.
It’s a manic story full of stunts and visual gags where the animals eventually discover that home is where the heart is. Before that epiphany, the group gets involved in many shenanigans that are just excuses to deliver punch lines. However, those punch lines are shot rapid-fire that the lame jokes are easy to forget and the good ones easy to laugh at.
It’s when the gang joins the circus that this show takes off to colorful, eye-popping visuals and makes narrative and character sense. While the New Yorkers provide the circus characters Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), Gia (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano (Martin Short) a renewed purpose in performing, the circus animals remind the New Yorkers why they were in the zoo in the first place.
The story is as thin as the previous Madagascar films and the voicing just so-so, but it’s really the addition of the circus animals that breathes new life to the otherwise washed-up concept. There’s a conscious “Who cares?” in the way the comedy is set up (we can always wonder how Vitaly the tiger can really squeeze through those tight spots) that leaves the audience with no choice but to accept it.
Add neon-colored cirque-du-soleil-type of stunts with animals and you get a G-rated family-friendly dose of polka-dot, polka-dot Afro-circus entertainment. Makes you want to watch a real circus live.