'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted' not really desired

June 7, 2012 

It's 'Madagascar,' so here we go again. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe still want to go home to the New York Zoo.

Still? Well, Alex does. He was a superstar there and misses what he thinks are the good ol’ days.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

The story picks the characters up as the penguins and monkeys split, headed for Monte Carlo. That leaves the group stranded. A hitchhike later and they’ve collared the penguins and are set for a ride home. Then the plane crashes. There is no ride home. And a nasty animal catcher longing to add the head of a lion to her collection is chasing them.

They’re only hope is to hope a train, join the circus, become stars and then get the circus booked in New York.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted features the vocal talents of an A-list of actors: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Martin Short, Paz Vega, Jessica Chastain and Francis McDormand among them.

Their excellent work is no surprise. But not much in Madagascar 3 is a surprise. This is 'been there, done that' territory. All that made versions one and two tolerable for adults was the penguins. They had great lines and some really funny bits. Kids like animated animals and don’t care that much about plot. Give them a slapstick scene or two, keep things moving and they’re happy.

Of the now three in the series, this is the best and works with the help of terrific 3D. The circus acts and the chase scenes are very well done. It also has more of an edge than the other two. Credit part of that to the addition of Noah Baumbach to the writing team. He has written some brilliant screenplays: Greenberg, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Margot at the Wedding, The Squid and the Whale and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

The first two Madagascar's were strictly for kids. Adults you have permission to like this one.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Stars: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Martin Short, Paz Vega, Jessica Chastain, Francis McDormand

Rated PG for mature themes. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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