Movie review – Cartoon craziness

2012-06-15 09:16

Film: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (UIP)

Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon

Featuring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, David Schwimmer, Jessica Chastain and Frances McDormand

Rating: 7/10

The creative force behind the Madagascar franchise, Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, take things up a notch with the third film in the series – and the result is a crazed race through the major cities of Europe as our quartet of zoo animals continues the struggle to find home: the New York Zoo.

The best part is that Noah Baumbach joins the screenwriting team and brings a good measure of the quirkiness he’s famous for to the brew.

Baumbach is the guy who wrote the screenplay for Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox and the off-the-wall The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Here, he and Darnell recreate the cartoon universe where the rules of physics do not apply, where life happens at top speed and hitting your head on a big rock barely results in a headache but gets belly laughs galore.

Alex (played by Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melman (David Schwimmer) face a new challenge this time.

In the first Madagascar film they found out what their natural instincts were and how to fight them. In the second film, they discovered their roots on the plains of Africa.

This time, well, they find out that sometimes there’s a place that is much better than home.

They join a circus to escape Frances McDormand’s homicidal character, who wants to mount Alex’s head on her wall.

The circus animals are suspicious of the foursome’s motives, but together they reimagine the circus as an animal version of Cirque du Soleil and create the Circus Afro song, which promises to be as enduring – and annoying – as Move It.

But they hope this clever remix won’t lead to children wanting to see animals performing tricks again – unless they are dogs or horses.

The penguins and chimpanzees have, like Scrat in the Ice Age franchise, renegotiated their contracts for much bigger parts.

Rightly so as they, along with Sacha Baron Cohen’s crazy lemur King Julian, are the lunatic fringe that make these films the exception to the rule, the rule being that no one does animation like Disney and Pixar.

With Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (and others in Dreamworks’ repertoire, such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon), this creative team at the very least gives the big boys a run for their money.

As the first big animation out this year – with Ice Age 4 and Pixar’s much-anticipated Brave

due soon – Alex and company get a chance to mark their box-office territory before their competition has even shown up.

» Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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