Sunday, May 27, 2018
Movies

Review: 'Madagascar 3' is a hoot for all ages

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

In the third movie the Madagascar gang joins a circus, and while the result isn't the greatest show on Earth, it certainly is a lot of fun.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is packed with silliness and festooned with 3-D effects worth the surcharge for a change. This is likely the best entertainment that children will find at the movies this summer, and that grownups can enjoy just as easily.

Once again, Alex the lion (voice of Ben Stiller) is pining to return to his Central Park Zoo celebrity, after tracing his roots through Africa in Part II. His sidekicks Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) and the interspecies married couple Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are ready to go, except those darned penguins flew their airplane to Monte Carlo for a weekend of cheating the roulette tables.

That scam leads to pursuit by a terrific villain, animal control Capt. Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), who desires Alex's head on her absurd wall of trophies. DuBois tracks prey like a bloodhound, won't allow anything to stop her, and tosses in a bit of Edith Piaf for good measure. She's the bad element the franchise has lacked, contrasting with the perpetual niceness of Alex and his friends.

One ridiculous thing leads to another and the menagerie hitches a ride on a circus train, against the wishes of Vitaly the tiger (Bryan Cranston), who doubts that these critters are big-top material. A sleek leopard named Gia (Jessica Chastain) believes Alex's yarns about incredible circus feats that eventually come true in a dazzling Cirque du Soleil-inspired climax that I immediately wanted to see again.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted uses this threadbare plot as an excuse for more high jinks by characters who haven't grown tiresome. The central quartet — except for Rock's rat-a-tat wisecracks — is constantly upstaged by sideshow critters: the intrepid penguins dealing with everything like it's D-Day, the irrepressible lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Martin Short as the exuberant sea lion Stefano.

This isn't genre-changing material; the DreamWorks pranksters will leave that stuff to Pixar. Neither does it feel forced for profit like the Ice Age series that, incredibly, won't die. The Madagascar franchise is purely goofy amusement, and its modesty is becoming after splashier, higher-minded competition. You don't expect perfection and you don't get it. But you do get more laughs than any other animated series out there.

And parents, get ready to have Rock's voice (or your kids' imitating him) jammed in your head all summer. His "circus-Afro-polka dot" ditty set to the classic circus theme song is an immediate earworm, especially mashed with Will.i.am's version of I Like to Move It from the second film. It's a brisk moment that fondly lingers, like many frantic pleasures of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

     
Comments
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior on-set, at his production company, and during press junkets, according to a report.CNN reports that 16 people have spoken out against Freeman’s alleged misco...
Published: 05/24/18
What's in theaters this week: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

What's in theaters this week: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story,' Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

OPENING FRIDAY: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Alden Ehrenreich stars as a young Han Solo navigating the underworld and meeting his forever wingman Chewbacca and his scoundrel buddy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). With Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Woo...
Published: 05/23/18
Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

No matter what Cress Williams does the rest of his acting career, he’ll always be remembered as the first to play Black Lightning.The 47-year-old actor with roles on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights is now that face of a DC comics franchise...
Published: 05/22/18
The young Han Solo movie is here. And let’s just say a robot is the best part.

The young Han Solo movie is here. And let’s just say a robot is the best part.

Washington PostSolo: A Star Wars Story begins with the Star Wars franchise’s signature tag line, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." But it seems like only yesterday that the title character met his end in The Force Awakens, the first insta...
Published: 05/21/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
‘Deadpool 2’ cracks jokes at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes

‘Deadpool 2’ cracks jokes at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes

When Deadpool referred to Cable as "Thanos," the guy sitting next to me lost it. Because, you know, Thanos is the name of the villain in Avengers: Infinity War who is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays Cable, who is mostly the villain in Deadpool ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18
A Plant City movie to make history by becoming first released on a blockchain

A Plant City movie to make history by becoming first released on a blockchain

When making his latest feature film, director and producer Jeremy Culver went old school in this digital age, shooting No Postage Necessary on 35-millimeter. But when it came to distributing the movie to the masses, Culver went new school. Sonew sch...
Updated one month ago
11 royal films to watch before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day

11 royal films to watch before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day

It’s safe to say Meghan Markle took the road less traveled on her way to becoming British royalty. For starters, she’s American (an Angeleno, to be specific). Second, she’s an actress (not exactly a noble profession, no offense Hollywood). And last b...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters this weekend: ‘RBG,’ ‘Life of the Party,’ ‘Breaking In’

What’s in theaters this weekend: ‘RBG,’ ‘Life of the Party,’ ‘Breaking In’

INDIE FLICKS: RBGThe notion of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the diminutive and soft-spoken Supreme Court justice, as a judicial "rock star" — at least in the eyes of progressives who love her sharply worded dissents to opinions rendered by the increasingly c...
Updated one month ago
Sing along to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and catch Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival in St. Pete Beach

Sing along to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and catch Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival in St. Pete Beach

FILM FEST: Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival on TourA roving iteration of the famous short-film showcase in Telluride, Colo., the Mountainfilm Festival on Tour makes a stop at the Don CeSar Hotel this weekend. The intent of the tour is to help spread...
Updated one month ago