Here’s another example of visual prowess exceeding plot effectiveness. You’ll likely be dazzled by the “look” of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” but left wanting by its storyline.
Apparently our once-favorite zoo animals — Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) — are having trouble leaving Africa to get back to their home in New York City’s Central Park Zoo.
The penguins and the monkeys have flown the coop in their makeshift airplane, headed for the casinos of Monte Carlo, apparently to secure some much-needed funds, but they forget to tell the four main animals that they are coming back for them.
So, Alex and company manage to snorkel their way to the French coast to find those pesky penguins, but not without alarming Europe’s most dedicated animal-control officer, Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand).
She is tireless in her pursuit, mainly because she would like their heads for her trophy wall, but she loses their scent on the train tracks in Paris. They have apparently hooked up with an underwhelming traveling Russian circus.
Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Cranston) has lost his nerve to perform his most amazing feat of leaping through a small ring of fire. Apparently, he got his fur badly singed in a moment of doubt and can’t bring himself to perform the trick again.
Alex finds a love interest in Gia the lioness (Jessica Chastain), while King Julien the head lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) has fallen for a despondent bear in a tutu. Talk about your odd animal pairings. There will be more.
The circus has the opportunity to win a stateside contract, but first must impress a promoter. This is the zoo animals’ ticket home, but first they must help create a new, more dynamic act, all while trying to avoid capture by the determined DuBois.
The penguins are still my favorite characters by far. Why they don’t get more screen time is beyond me. Make it happen, Kowalski!
There’s also a strange off-color nature to this latest film that took me by surprise, not the least of which was seeing a kid being stuffed up an elephant’s behind.
At this point, these Madagascar movies are beginning to feel a little threadbare, a lot less interesting and aimed only at making guilty parents take their little darlings to ANYTHING animated, just to keep them entertained for 90 minutes.
That’s not a good enough reason. Give them a good book to read instead. They’ll thank you later.