, Port Arthur, Texas

June 8, 2012

‘Madagascar III’ is funny, furry, fast-paced

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— The “Madagascar” movies may never rise to the level of being animation classics, but they are undeniably entertaining, particularly for younger children who enjoy the silly characters and all the vibrantly colored mayhem. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the original two films have already grossed a billion dollars worldwide, and the third installment in the franchise, “Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted,” looks to be a hit as well.

The story picks up where the last movie left off, with world-traveling zoo animals Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) trying to get back to their Central Park Zoo home. They travel to Europe, where they run across an animal control officer (Frances McDormand) determined to capture the furry quartet. They hide from her by joining a circus, and as you might guess, they transform that circus into something special, thanks to the good-natured mayhem that always seems to follow our animal heroes.

This all happens in less than ninety minutes and it feels even quicker thanks to the film’s non-stop action and rapid-fire jokes. Fortunately many of those jokes are quite funny—that’s not always the case in these types of movies. The crazy band of penguins once again steals the show, but everyone gets a chance to shine. There’s enough humorous meat here that I wouldn’t mind seeing a “Madagascar” movie with a longer running time, but I realize that these films are aimed at tiny audiences with tiny bladders, so that’s not likely to happen.

Visually, the film isn’t as nuanced or painterly as a great animated film, but that’s not really a problem as the animation is only intended to be a vibrant visual assault that will keep your kids’ eyes up on the screen. The addition of 3D this time around means that stuff will be thrown at the screen to artificially make the audience jump.

 The “Madagascar” movies started out as mediocre-but-entertaining films. Somehow they keep getting better with each additional film. They certainly get faster, perhaps because we’re familiar enough with the characters that the filmmakers can do away with back-stories and simply get into the action sequences.  Whatever the reason, “Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted” is another funny and fast-paced entry into the franchise. Kids will love it, parents will be amused and jaded film critics might even be open to the idea of “Madagascar IV.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at