Madagascar gang go a continent too far
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
(G, general release, 93 minutes
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath Stars: Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jessica Chastain
In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, or 'A Bridge Too Far' as it might otherwise have been subtitled, the gang of vaguely endearing former zoo animals reconvene for this somewhat hysterical sequel based on the 2005 DreamWorks animation.
In the first film, Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) escaped from Central Park Zoo and were deported to Africa, where they struggled to blend in with dismissive wild animals.
They're still in Kenya at the start of Madagascar 3, and beginning to doubt that those fickle penguins will return in their battered cargo plane to rescue them.
They decide to follow the birds to Europe (how they get there is never explained), and wash up in Monte Carlo, where they cause a major incident and end up being pursued across France by a relentless policewoman (Frances McDormand).
On the run in a foreign land where the locals are known to chow down on just about anything, they join a passing circus and must learn the ropes on a whistlestop tour of Europe.
Well, France, Italy and England actually -- after that the writers must have run out of lazy cultural stereotypes.
There are some half-decent jokes in Madagascar 3, and some strong vocal performances too. But the animation's garish, the story seems hacked together, and the film may bewilder younger children who want strong stories with heroes, villains and happy endings rather than the surreal musings of overwrought animators.
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