Thursday, June 7, 2012
Review of MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (2012)
- Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.
- Featuring the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Jessica Chastain
- Screenplay by Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach
- Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon
- Running time: 1hr 33min.
The first MADAGASCAR has a special place in my heart. It was the first movie that my daughter (then, 23 months) sat all the way through. She was laughing and engaged throughout. It was just a joy watching her watch it. And since then, she hasn't looked back. She has now seen over 175 movies in the theater (she's almost 9 now). Even besides that, I thought the movie was fun and stylish. The second one was more of the same, though I thought it was a bit sillier with some of the secondary characters (namely the old lady). It wasn't quite as good. And now with this third one, I was a little skeptical going into it, though on the plus side I was bringing my daughter again.
When we last left the crazy animals of the MADAGASCAR saga (Alex, Gloria, Melman, and Marty). they were in Africa trying to find a way home to the New York Zoo. The movie starts off with the penguins fixing a plane and taking it to Monte Carlo so they can gamble with some monkeys, but they promise to come back and take the rest of the gang home. Alex can't wait, so he gathers the crew plus King Julien and his posse, and they make their way to Europe. The animals practically destroy the town which draws attention to a vicious animal control expert, Captain Chanel DuBois, who desperately wants a lion head to add to her trophy room. Alex and the crew escape Dubois when they board a circus train. They ask the animals if they can join them in the circus. Though some of the circus animals are reluctant (mainly a has been tiger named Vitaly), they let them hide out, promising to take them to America when their tour goes there (if the American promoter likes them in England). But there's just one thing... the circus sucks! So it's up to Alex to create a great show for all of the performers so they can get back home, all the while Dubois is hot on their trail.
While I didn't like the 2nd one all that much, at least that story had a good moral center with the subplot involving Alex's father. But this one doesn't have anything heartfelt like that. The plot isn't all that original as it seemed like they were really fishing for a reason to make another one. The result is rather "meh". I couldn't really care less about anything going on here. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if it was stylish and offered some fresh humor. But everything felt rushed. The pacing is set at a breakneck speed (especially the first 30 minutes) that if you haven't seen the other 2, you'll probably be lost as to who everyone is. No time for character development Dr. Jones!
There were a few amusing bits. Julien's sidekick Maurice has a funny moment and Marty doing his Afro Circus song was funny the first time he does it (it's repeated at least 4 more times). My favorite moments in the movie though, involved the love affair between Julien and an overweight circus bear. There romantic montage as they tour Italy had be chuckling a lot (loved seeing that bear driving around on a crotch rocket). But more often than not, the movie just resorts to loud and obnoxious humor. There are so many chases with animals and humans screaming, making noises, and wrecking stuff. It got so exhausting that I checked out long before the halfway point.
The voice work is about the same as the other movies, though the penguins aren't that funny anymore. Maybe because their type of shenanigans are no longer fresh, but one thing's for certain. They're getting old. Francis McDormand is a welcome addition to the cast and is somewhat amusing as DuBois. I loved her operatic number that comes out of nowhere. But Martin Short's seal character was annoying and not funny.
Instead of being imaginative like the first one, the filmmakers just throw in a lot of random humor that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Speaking of not making any sense. In the first movie, I believe that Alex and his friends were shipped off to Madagascar because of bad behavior, so they weren't welcomed back to the zoo. But in this one, there are newspaper articles stating that the Zoo is still looking for their "missing" animals. Maybe I'm wrong. It has been awhile since I've seen it, but if I'm not wrong then that's sloppy writing.
If you want to see a family film that tries to make kids laugh by throwing lots of loud scenes with obnoxious characters doing annoying things at you and features the latest crappy pop songs, then MADAGASCAR 3 is for you. But if you want to take the family to a genuinely imaginative, unique, visually interesting, and hilarious movie, then you should've taken them to see PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, which is much better. The sad thing is, that movie flopped and this one is going to make at least 150 million. Sometimes moviegoers boggle my mind.
Oh yeah. And for the record, my daughter didn't really like it either. But she loved PIRATES! (which you may still be able to find at the cheap theaters, which is definitely a better deal than spending 60 bucks taking everyone to this mediocre flick).
** (out of ****)