I will never baby-sit as long as I live, especially if the job involves going to see films like Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. I’ve never seen a Madagascar film in my life until this one, and if the others are like this…I’ll be happy to never see another. The movie is a joy for little kids, the ones I was with seemed to enjoy it, but as an adult this is a labor-intensive excursion to the movies. Strip away the garish colors and the writing, acting, and entertainment is on par with a Nickelodeon cartoon making me wonder why I’m paying to see this!
Living the life of leisure in Africa, lion Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller) is starting to wonder if there’s more to life. With the help of his friends from the first two films, the group decides to go back home to New York. Making a side trip to Monte Carlo to find the penguins, the group is hunted down by an overzealous Animal Control officer (voiced by Frances McDormand) and end up on a train with circus animals.
Again I’ve never seen Madagascar or its sequel and apparently you have to be in the know about these characters. I’d only ever seen the trailers, which I assumed was enough to get me through the film. Instead I had very little connection to the characters and the film presents no back-story outside of their introductions. Sure the film picks up where the second left off (so I’ve been told) but I only knew the four friends and the Penguins. I had no connection to the character of Julian, voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, and had to ask a few times for clarification on how the group ended up there and why the hell Alex would want to return to New York! For small children, under the age of 7, this movie will be amazing. The bright colors, the pratfalls, the constant shooting of things out of cannons, will engage young audiences which I guess is proof the movie are a success. There are the occasional chuckle-worthy moments, namely anything involving the Penguins and the stuff that’s already been presented in the trailer (although that Circus Afro thing is far more annoying in the film than the trailers).
The voice acting is moderate, nothing special but not terrible. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith are pros by this point and they all present their personalities through their vocal work. France McDormand is just annoying as the snooty French animal control officer. I don’t understand why the stereotypical French accent as spoken by Americans is still used. There weren’t any voice actors in France willing to do this film? McDormand’s accent is so obviously fake it just distracts you every time the character shows up. Bryan Cranston and Jessica Chastain had to owe someone money to make appearances in this film.
The Madagascar movies don’t have nearly the clout or enjoyment of the PIXAR films because they’re obviously made for little kids; which is fine unless you’re old enough to eat on the adult menu and then it’s a chore. I was just beyond bored with this film. I didn’t care for the characters, the story was simply loud noises and one big circus stunt presented throughout, and there was never any third act climax to make me root for the characters to succeed. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t start with the first film but I skipped three Shrek films and loved the last one so go figure.
If you have small children then by all means go see Madagascar 3, or at least find some dupe looking for money and have them take your children. If you’re an adult, or at least think you are, then there is no reason to see this. The plot is non-existent, the characters are annoying and there’s no warmth or personality as opposed to PIXAR. Skip it and wait for Brave.