directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
viewed: 02/25/2012 at the Balboa Theater, SF, CA
I can summarize my feelings about the Madagascar franchise fairly simply: the main celebrity-voiced protagonists are weak, but the side characters (the penguins, the chimps, and the lemurs) are all very funny. This to its own extent is somewhat proven out by the fact that the penguins and lemurs got their own television show despite not being the more “famous” of the voices. The narrative aspects of the films aren’t its strength. The sight gags and slapstick around the lesser players can be a lot of fun.
In writing about Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), I noted quite aptly that “The sum of the parts are better than the whole. In fact, some of the parts are better than the whole.”
Case in point: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, a manic phantasmagoria of animated nonsense, at times, remarkably funny.
I was quite surprised to see Noah Baumbach’s name attached to the co-writing credits. I can only imagine that he was brought on board for help. The story is weak, with the gang trying to get back to New York City and joining a traveling circus. The new villain, Captain Chantel DuBois (voiced by Frances McDormand) is very funny, a rampant huntress of a Monte Carlo animal control squad, who ruthlessly chases the creatures all over Europe. There are indeed tons of very funny gags, like when the chimps are dressed as the King of Versailles, the penguins do just about anything, or even when Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) does his “circus afro polkadot” song.
As a movie, it’s awful. But it’s quite funny.
Clara thought it was hilarious.