Review: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted


Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Eric Darnell, Noah Baumbach
93 min.
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Chris Miller
MPAA Rating
PG for some mild action and rude humor

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Source Material

When you have a winning formula, you stick to it. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted knows how to please its fans even if it doesn’t reach the pinnacles of animation excellence that others typically achieve.

Seven years ago, DreamWorks launched one of its most successful film franchises. Starring the inhabitants of a New York City zoo who go out for a night on the town, but end up trapped on a boat to Madagascar, our quartet of disparate critters have faced numerous challenges including a flight from Madagascar into the heart of Africa four years ago. Now, they continue their attempts to return to New York City, this time ending up in the Riviera and partnering with a local circus in an attempt to flee from a homocidal animal control agent from France.

Madagascar 3 is a madcap adventure that adds a number of compelling new characters to the cast of the prior two films. Forming the base of the group, the familiar voices of Ben Stiller as the pampered lion Alex, Chris Rock as the flighty zebra Marty, David Schwimmer as the hypochondriac giraffe Melman and Jada Pinkett Smith as the feisty hippo Gloria each add the kind of familiarity that warmly greets you after a long absence. These are the friends you always liked even if you seldom see them. In Africa, these four were joined by Sacha Baron Cohen as the moronic, self absorbed lemur King Julien; Cedric the Entertainer plays his smart, faithful lemur adviser Maurice; Andy Richter as a simple-minded lemur named Mort; and a troop of penguins voiced by Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio (who isn’t in this film) and Christopher Knights.

While there are new characters introduced in the second film, none of them follow through to the third, but to replace them we have a bevy of interesting characters who will likely make an appearance in successive sequels. Jessica Chastain voices the sexy jaguar Gia; Martin Short gives his zany best to the clownish seal Stefano; and Bryan Cranston growls his way through the film as the Siberian Tiger who provides one of the film’s key plotlines, namely an accident years before that scarred him physically and emotionally.

With that maturity of Pixar defining much of the animation world in the last decade, many studios are attempting to create more adult-friendly plots while still appealing to children. The Madagascar franchise has blissfully remained a children’s film series. There is humor aplenty for adults, but its youthful wonder and execution are exactly what audiences need. Unlike the insipid Ice Age series, Madagascar keeps its heart on its sleeve and continues to deliver engaging content without pandering to an audience base that has become increasingly weary of it.

While it may not have the gravitas of something like Up, Wall-E or even Toy Story, Madagascar 3, like its predecessors is an enjoyable and engaging adventure that audiences of any age can enjoy without feeling they have to find some deeper meaning. This film preaches tolerance, acceptance and perseverance, but doesn’t gear those lessons towards parents but to the children who should be endlessly enthralled with its vibrant pallet and entertaining characters.
February 4, 2013

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