Opinions on ‘Madagascar 3’ diverge wildly
|“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” is now playing in movie theaters.|
|Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures|
“9-year-old kid = [happy face]
13-year-old = [frown].”
My daughter is 13. Her problem with “Madagascar 3” is not that it’s a kid-friendly movie. We saw the stop-action “Pirates! Band of Misfits” a few weeks ago, and she was charmed by it. But “Madagascar 3,” in her mind, is the kind of movie she’s left behind. Even the fact that it used Katy Perry’s “Firework” didn’t help. She took it as an affront that the movie would dare to appropriate one of her favorite songs.
While I can’t say I loved “Madagascar 3,” I found much in it to like, or at least appreciate. Like the previous “Madagascar” films and the “Penguins of Madagascar” TV spin-off, it’s unabashedly “cartoony,” and it keeps the energy level high (maybe too high). It gives the characters a fun adversary in Captain Chantel DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand), an animal control officer with brains, a ninja’s dexterity and a singular obsession.
DuBois’ obsession is Alex (Ben Stiller), a New York lion on the run. In a scene that moves at breakneck speed, DuBois chases Alex and his wandering zoo pals — zebra Marty (Chris Rock), hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and neurotic giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) — through the streets of Monte Carlo. She will not rest until the lion is mounted on her wall, where it would share space with the heads of many other animals, all of them of the cutsie variety.
Alex is in Monte Carlo to convince the penguins, who are gambling up a storm, to help the gang return to their beloved New York. Also with the penguins is their genius monkey friend, who, for reasons never revealed, is dressed as the King of Versailles. (One measure of a movie’s cartooniness is how often you can use the phrase “for reasons never revealed.”)
To escape DuBois’ pursuit, the gang joins a European circus, where they meet jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain) and Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), an intense Russian tiger with jumping-through-hoops issues. In somewhat the reverse of “A Bug’s Life,” Alex and his friends pretend they’re also circus performers, with the hope the show will make it to New York, allowing them to return to the Central Park Zoo. Will the animals from different continents form a bond? Will the devious DuBois, she of the Bozo the Clown hair, continue to wreak havoc? Will the movie ever pause to take a breath? Will the number of times my daughter checks her watch reach double figures?
In a post-movie cross examination, I could not get my daughter to admit that some scenes, like the one where crazed lemur Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and a female circus bear frolic around Vatican City, were pretty fun. But she did agree the scenes at the end were kind of pretty, looking like the black craft boards she used to play with that reveal rainbow colors when scratched.
But in the end she would not give “Madagascar 3” a “thumbs up.” Who knows? Maybe it’s one of those movies for everyone “9 to 99,” with the exception of 13.
The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.
*** (out of four)
Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.
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