Movie Name: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Release Date(s): May 18, 2012 (Cannes Film Festival)/June 8, 2012 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria have decided to abandon Africa and make one final attempt to return to New York City and their home in the zoo. Fearing the penguins have abandoned them, the animals travel to Monte Carlo where an incident leads them to be pursued by animal control officer Captain Chantel DuBois. DuBois will stop at nothing to claim the animals and Alex’s head so hiding among a circus troop could be Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria’s best chance.
Directed by Eric Darnell, Conrad Vernon, and Tom McGrath, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is an animated family comedy. Following Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008, it was the best received and biggest moneymaker of the Madagascar films.
The basic concept for Madagascar 3 doesn’t make much sense. At the end of Madagascar 2, the animals seemed happy and content living on the reserve in Africa…apparently that changed and getting back to a zoo is what animals really want to do. Despite a contrived set-up, this probably really is the best of the movies.
The first movie I felt was too aimed at adults, the second movie was all over the place, and this movie finds a bit more of a happy medium. The story does still have a lot of adult references, but I feel it is a bit more skewed toward children which I prefer in a kids’ movie. The film flips the message (of the previous films) by having the animals realize that they are happier free and being entertainers at the same time. It feels like the plot is a little more streamlined with DuBois pushing the plot along.
The Madagascar movies always bring a good and big cast. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinket Smith return as the lead cast with supporting actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Enertainer, and Andy Richter back as well. Francis McDormand is fun as the evil inspector DuBois as the new circus performers voices are provide by Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, and Martin Short.
Visually, the movie also has more to work with. Both Madagascar and Madagascar 2 were lock into settings in Africa. Here, the film animators have all of Europe to play with and they make the best of it. I still don’t love the animal designs, but it is too late to change them now.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted still isn’t a great film, but it is a better film. The fact that it is called Madagascar and the characters really have little ties to the island anymore kind of bothers me (they send DuBois there to at least reference it). The movie’s success of course meant a sequel. Madagascar 4 is scheduled for release in 2018 and a spin-off film The Penguins of Madagascar was released in 2014.