Our heroes are now in Africa apparently, (well technically they were always in Africa since they were in Madagascar, but the sequel I never saw was titled ‘Escape 2 Africa’ hence the “now”… ok, moving on.) but those damn penguins left our heroes behind as they ran off to gamble in Monte Carlo. As our heroes catch up to the Penguins, and their monkey powered airplane, they wreak havoc on the Italian locale and gain the interest of a particularly terrifying animal control agent, DuBois. Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria end up hiding among a traveling circus which actually has a shot at getting them back to New York City.
Now the plot is pretty straight forward here and is easy for those younger audiences to follow.
You get your classic third act falling out that drives our heroes apart from their new friends, but this was the only clichéd “twist” that rubbed me the wrong way; mostly because the break up didn’t have enough weight to buy in to it. This has all been a long winded way of saying that the plot isn’t what makes this movie entertaining; it’s the set pieces, the 3D, and the outrageous nature of a lot of the film’s gags.
First let’s look at the set pieces, which are pretty fantastic. DreamWorks has really embraced the action set pieces in their films as of late and Madagascar 3 has what will be one of the finer entries of the year. The scene is a giant chase that takes us on foot, then by car/scooter, then all the way into the air across Monte Carlo and it is awesome. Thrown in a crazy, terminator-esque DuBois running through walls and averting everything the animals throw in her path and you have one of DreamWorks best action beats in recent years. The scene is worth the price of admission alone, but we also get an awesome circus performance and a crazy finale that pays off the ridiculous Trapeze Americano.
Outside the big set pieces the film is also just weird and vulgar and I like it the more for it. Small child up an elephant’s ass, check; a character uttering the line ‘Bullshit’ in a PG movie, check; trying to convince the audience that zoo’s are worse places for animals than the circus, check; a full grown tiger who can jump through a hoop the size of a ring with nothing but the assistance of olive oil; check! The film is just out there and isn’t afraid to do some crazy shit. I really don’t know how the film got a PG rating; timid parents you’ve been warned. I wonder how much Noah Baumbach getting a writing credit had to do with the success of this film; I imagine a lot.
Madagascar 3 is way more fun than anyone expected it to be and a lot crazy than it probably should be. It avoids annoyance, has great 3D, and some thrilling and inventive action scenes. The movie is also plenty funny, and not just for the little ones. Rock and Stiller provide plenty of good one liners and the visual gags are right at home with Looney Tunes. All in all Madagascar 3 is a good time at the theater and one that is worth the extra 3D dollars if you wish. Color me pleasantly surprised by this one.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a B-