CHRIS TOOKEY: Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is a first rate offering
00:13 GMT, 19 October 2012
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG)
Frankenweenie, Tim Burton’s animated romp which I reviewed last Friday, is the classiest of this week’s releases, but the third and most entertaining of the Madagascar trilogy is well worth a watch, too.
Not that it needs your money — it’s already made $1 billion at the international box office.
This time round, much more attention has been made to the script and visuals — thank goodness.
One for adults and for children: Refreshingly, Madagascar 3 does not contain one joke about flatulence
Many of the one-liners will make adults as well as children laugh, and there’s lots of pace and energy.
The four leading animals — Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) — start in Africa.
But they haven’t given up hope of getting back to their beloved New York zoo. So they scuba-dive across the Mediterranean and go on a trip via Monte Carlo, Rome and London in a fantasy Europe unaffected by passport controls.
They join a travelling circus, where they meet a dim-witted Italian sea lion (Martin Short), an alluring jaguar (Jessica Chastain) and a bad-tempered Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston).
And they’re chased all the way to America by an animal-hating French cop, entertainingly voiced by Frances McDormand as a kind of Gallic Cruella De Vil.
The true glory of the film lies in its animation, which is light years ahead of the first two installments
Problematically, the central characters aren’t cute or interesting enough to sustain one full-length feature, let alone three, while the leading vocal performances are anonymous.
The pleasure lies in the colourfully goofy minor characters, notably the penguins, monkeys and lemurs.
And the true glory of the film lies in its animation, which is light years ahead of the first two installments. Its use of 3D is imaginative and, at times, inspired.
Small children will enjoy the colour and fun, and alert adults will spot homages to The Italian Job, The Matrix and even Psycho. Some of the humour borders on the adult, too, as when lemur king Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) caresses a cycle-riding bear with the words: ‘You have a very hairy back — I like that in a woman.’
Refreshingly, though, there is not one joke about flatulence.
The beauty of Madagascar 3 is that it could only be a cartoon, cheerfully disobeying the laws of physics and abandoning any pretence of feasibility in its pursuit of laughter.
Eye-popping and bounding with energy, this is fun for audiences of all ages.