Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
After regurgitating The Lion King like a chick-feeding mama bird with its first Madagascar sequel (2008’s Escape 2 Africa), DreamWorks Animation now plops the franchise down in Cars 2 territory for round three, opening its new zoo revue with a botched casino heist and a vertiginous chase through the streets of Monte Carlo. But after the cargo plane that the wayward Central Park animals planned to fly back to Manhattan crashes and burns, our wild-kingdom heroes plot an alternate route home that involves joining up with a demoralised circus troupe.
This three-ring marriage of convenience adds a knife-throwing Russian tiger (voiced by Bryan Cranston), a jaguar trapezist (Jessica Chastain) and a buffoonish Italian sea lion (Martin Short) – along with their retinue of dodgy accents – to Ben Stiller’s cowardly lion, Chris Rock’s chatty-Cathy zebra, etc. The unwieldy conglomeration of old and new characters teeters like a pyramid of acrobats atop a miniature tricycle, but Europe’s Most Wanted moves with enough speed to keep from collapsing in a heap of blood and greasepaint. The faster the better, in fact, since despite Noah Baumbach’s co-writing credit, there are few lines worth lingering on. (A homesick New Yorker’s longing for ‘nine Duane Reades on every street’ is a noteworthy exception.) Frances McDormand brings the jambon as an animal-control expert who tracks down the menagerie with Javert-like zeal, rousing her troops with some off-key Edith Piaf. For the most part, however, Madagscar 3 is less interested in plucking the last bit of meat off the series’ bones than with simply picking the lowest-hanging fruit.
From Time Out London
Dir Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, category I, 94 mins, opens on Aug 2