Review: ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ is Furry Jesus
I was in a bad mood all day when I went to see this movie. A real bad mood.
I was looking forward to seeing it, however, because I decided it would cheer me up. I wasn't expecting it to be great and cheer me up; I expected it to be bad, and then I would get to take out all my frustrations on it in my review.
Can I even write that?
Anyway, you read the headline; this movie cheered me right up in the way I did not expect it to. By not sucking. Also, by not only not sucking, but by really not sucking a lot.
I saw the first Madagascar movie. I did not, mea culpa, see the second. (Bad furry movie reviewer! Bad!) Apparently nothing happened in that second movie; the returning cast contained no one I was unfamiliar with.
You have Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), a trio of lemurs, a quartet of penguins and a duo of chimpanzees. All are looking for a way back to New York City, where they used to live in the zoo – except for the lemurs, who apparently just came along for the ride.
The penguins and chimpanzees have made it to Monte Carlo, where they made a lot of money by disguising the latter as the King of Versailles and betting it all on black at the casino. Unfortunately, Alex fears they plan to abandon him and his friends, so they try to rejoin the penguins, with disastrous results. A bizarre French animal control officer (Frances McDormand) is dispatched to track them down, dead or … well, dead.
While trying to escape, they find a traveling circus, and convince its animals – including tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain) and sea lion Stefano (Martin Short) – that they are also circus animals. Eventually, they learn that if the circus can impress an American talent scout in a London showing, they can go to America! So, obviously, the penguins buy the circus with their gambling winnings.
By the way, the island of Madagascar does not actually appear in this movie.
The Greatest Show on Earth
The first half of the movie had me licking my chops, preparing my best barbed one-liners. It was very messy, like a series of vaguely connected shorts – as if the filmmakers had decided to make a series of Chuck Jones tributes and missed the mark by a mile.
But stick it out, because the second half of the movie is worth it. It all begins when Stefano takes Alex aside after a disastrous performance at Rome and explains why the circus is in such bad shape. From that point on, instead of veering off into bizarre tangents at unexpected moments, the movie sticks with this story until it’s over.
Alex, a natural showman, takes over the circus, convincing the animals that things have to change. He points out Cirque du Soleil as a bizarre inspiration; they dropped their animal acts, and gained a following. Alex argues that they go the opposite direction; all animals, all the time.
And it shall be called … Fur Power.
The movie starts rolling during a practice session; there are some quite touching character moments, as both zoo and circus animals find their talents. At last, the London performance takes place, and the movie plays it amazingly, beautifully, wonderfully straight.
Our heroes can finally return to New York! But… is it still what they want? And what about that crazy French woman?
At the end of the day, the only reason I went to this movie was because, well, I review movies on Flayrah. Given my own druthers, I would rather have skipped this one. Great, I thought as I looked at the local showtimes, I am going to have to miss Prometheus on my one free night because I feel obligated to the furry fandom, God knows why.
Which is silly, even hypocritical, for me to think, because I am the guy always saying, “If you’re a furry fan, you should want to watch this movie” at the end of my reviews. So, sorry about that, and thanks – I almost missed a good movie.
I decided to make a night of it and pull a double feature; Prometheus ended up sucking. Funny how that worked out.
Note: As usual, I watched the 2D version of this one, so no comment on the 3D.