Thursday, June 07, 2012

MADAGASCAR 3 - More Madcap Fun

Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short and Paz Vega
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon
Screenplay: Eric Darnell, Noah Baumbach
Time: 85 mins
Rating:  *  *  * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Since the first film caught our funnybone in 2005 and after earning US$1.1 billion at the worldwide box office later, the Madagascar cartoon franchise is now a familiar family treat. What's new with Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is that it gets 'wilder' and more ridiculous, abandoning credulity for the sake of fun and frivolity, and adding on a bunch of funny, memorable characters.

Topped with 3D effects, this is another wacky and hilarious outing for the family.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Picking up from Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), our friends, Alex the Lion (voice of Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are getting bored with Africa and want to return to the Central Park Zoo in New York, which they affectionately call 'home'.

Getting home proves to be a bit of a challenge. Their journey involves stop-overs in Monte Carlo, Rome, and London. Along the way, they make an enemy of French Animal Control officer Captain DuBois (Frances McDormand), who wants nothing more than to mount a lion's head on her wall. Looking for a way out of their mess, the guys join the circus. Here they are welcomed with warmth by Stefano the Seal (Martin Short), treated with wariness by Gia the Jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and plain hostility by Vitaly the Siberian Tiger (Bryan Cranston). Eventually, they all learn to work together to catch the attention of a U.S. promoter who will fund their trip across the Atlantic.

HITS & MISSES: As in the previous films, the plot of Europe's Most Wanted is thin, childish and ludicrous. However, the top attractions of the franchise has always been the characters, especially the Penguins, and the film-makers tend to pile-up on these in this third instalment. Besides the motor-mouthed Marty and the other regulars, we have McDormand's deliciously French-accented villain Capt Dubois, Chastain's sassy and purr-ly Gia, and the screwball lemur king Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) who falls for an enormous bear on a bicycle.

Again, the gags involve ethnic and cultural stereotyping, allusions to popular films and inside jokes,  However, the wacky action soon builds up to a Circus Gone Berserk climax. And if Madagascar is such a blast with the kids, why quibble?

THE LOWDOWN: More madcap fun with Marty and pals.


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