Starring the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Martin Short and Sasha Baron Cohen. Written by Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach. Directed by Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon.
In terms of movies and filmmaking, a trilogy can be a tricky thing. Sometimes the third installment of a series can be a taxing experience, showcasing the fact that most of the good ideas for the franchise have already been exhausted in the first two films (see: Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3 and the cinematic scourge known heretofore as the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi). It's a rarity that the third film turns out to be one of the best (if not the best) of a series. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted fits into the latter category quite nicely.
Longing to get back to his home in Central Park, Alex the lion (Stiller) has some unfinished business with a certain group of penguins that left Alex and his friends, Melman the giraffe (Schwimmer), Gloria the hippo (Smith), Marty the zebra (Rock) and others, stranded in Africa. After finding out that the penguins and their chimpanzee cohorts are in a Monte Carlo casino, Alex and friends decide to snatch them up and head back to the Big Apple. Unfortunately for the lion, there's a rabid animal control officer in France, Capitaine DuBous (voiced by Frances McDormand) who wants Alex's head...literally. For the greatest bulk of the film, the gang hides out in a traveling circus, leading to a high-octane dose of physical humor. Aside from the pratfalls, the humor's peppered with witty lines courtesy of screenwriters Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach.
Another aspect that makes the movie enjoyable is the fact that the 3D visuals work exceptionally well. For a film buff, 3D is a touchy, hit-or-miss subject. It either works like a clichéd charm, or it falls flat. But here, it's amazing. In fact, it wouldn't be so off-base to call this one of the best 3D films, visually, to come along in quite some time. As if the goofy animals weren't enough, the 3D tech will rivet the little ones.
Simply put, this is a great kids' film, and us curmudgeonly old folks will get a kick out of it too. —Mike McHone