Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted


Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. Voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Chastain, Martin Short, Paz Vega, Frances McDormand G cert, general release, 93 min

AND THEY SHALL know us by the quality of Seth Macfarlane joke we inspire.

The repartee of pop culture is seldom kind to DreamWorks Animation or to the Madagascar sequence. Somewhere between Shrek movies the imprint settled into a groove of gratuitous snark and celebrity cameos, an easily parodied formula for the cartoon satirist or professional wag. The Madagascar movies are repeat offenders when it comes to ripe “I get jokes!” material.

There was something unsettlingly complacent about the way the 2008 sequel fell back on a lemur dancing to I Like To Move It, Move It. And there’s something even more unsettling about the encore performance in Madagascar 3. With crushing inevitability the new film sees the same animated beast (Sacha Baron Cohen’s King Julien) shake his predictable booty to such highly fashionable hits as the Spice Girls’ Wannabe.

Sigh. We are, at least, spared Sir Mix-a-lot.

The halfwit karaoke is an anomaly. Unlike its predecessors, and with a curtsey before Herbie and Inspector Clouseau, the third part of the billion-dollar franchise traces a frantic chase across Europe. It’s a good move for the neurotic New York zoo animals. Freed from the narrative constraints of being shipwrecked and/or captive, the quartet tear through the old continent with Frances McDormand’s demented French captain on their respective tails.

Alex the Lion’s pining for Manhattan is confined to a brief prologue as he and his team – Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe, and Marty the Zebra – take refuge with a traveling circus. Carnival newcomers Vitaly the Russian Tiger (Bryan Cranston) and Gia the Jaguar (Jessica Chastain) make for welcome additions to the classic line-up, and the penguins are rightly accorded higher billing.

The results are faster, sprightlier and more Animal Farm than the earlier films and TV spin-offs. The animation is fluid and endearingly cartoonish. Melman has never looked lankier and the Dayglo homage to Dumbo’s pink elephants is a triumph, especially in 3D.

We’re still not buying that elephant-hippo marriage, mind.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.