February 21, 2018

Now Out on DVD- Madagascar 3

By Julie Samrick

Running away with the circus and many more adventures have the Madagascar friends shrieking, soaring, and train hopping across Europe, their third continent in as many movies.  In hot pursuit of them is the officer of animal control, and she’s hungry to mount their heads as trophies on her already full wall.


The first half of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted whizzes along, heavy on action with a weak, convoluted plot. Too many characters stuffed in confuse things and it’s unclear why they’re all there.  My 4-year-old’s mouth hung open, a scowl on her face, during the many action scenes.  I counted one dizzying action every 5 seconds during the first 30 minutes of the just under 90 minute movie.


The storyline finally steadies and becomes interesting once the crew collects themselves to help their new friends revitalize a has-been European circus. 


With the current trend of swapping now politically incorrect circus animals for humans performing glamorous special effects (think Cirque de Soleil), the gang sets out to do both: have animals, and animals only, perform a modern, dazzling circus show.


Alex (Ben Stiller), Melman (David Schwimmer), Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith), and Marty (Chris Rock) are still the reason the Madagascar franchise works. Despite the fancy special effects, their characters alone are what ultimately make us laugh, smile, and care about what happens. 


Kudos also go out for the writing of the new European circus friends- from Stefano the sensitive Italian sea lion to Vitaly, the stoic Russian tiger, they are just as zany and lovable, and bring out even more characteristics we hadn’t seen yet in the original Madagascar animals.  Some of the best laughs in the movie come from the pairing of lofty King Julien with a new character, Sonya, the simple, tricycle-riding bear.


The soundtrack doesn’t compare with the original Madagascar.  There are no original hit songs that stand out like the smash hit “We Like to Move It.”  The closest song is Chris Rock’s “Circus Afro,” but it’s not nearly as catchy.


In the end, whatever continent the characters travel, or whatever feats they struggle to overcome, the four friends are still the heart of the film.  The moral “Home is Where the Heart is” can be discussed with kids after watching, as can “Be Careful What You Wish For- You Just Might Get It.”  There are also topics to discuss with kids surrounding making new friends and/ or the importance of using our imaginations.


Because of mature dialogue, some violence, and quick action sequences, this film earns its PG rating and I wouldn’t take kids under 6 to see it.


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