After a solid if unremarkable opener and a lacklustre sequel, the third outing for everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic animals hits the sweet spot and comes out as possibly the funniest animated film that studio Dreamworks have produced.
So this time around we have lion Alex (Ben Stiller), zebra Marty (Chris Rock), hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) getting bored of Africa and yearning for their home comforts back in the New York Zoo, and they hatch a plan to return there. Along the way they join a travelling circus that will hopefully get them back to the Big Apple, but all the while a French animal control agent, intent on putting Alex’s head on her trophy wall, is trying to stop them.
However, the makers of this film have decided that story will always take a backseat to the jokes. And this is where Madagascar 3 succeeds beautifully; it seems content to accept that first and foremost its job is to make you laugh. And it does, frequently. This film doesn’t have the subtle nuances that so many of the Pixar efforts do, nor does it have the cynicism of that other Dreamworks franchise involving a big green ogre, but what it does have is gags by the bucketload.
Freed from the constraints that so many other films feel the need to adhere to, namely any sort of semblance of realism, the writers and animators just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. As it happens, a lot of it does and you end up with a pretty anarchic, delightfully bonkers film whose enthusiasm and vigour gets you through without ever causing you to look at your watch. In fact, the films greatest triumph is that it knows it’s a cartoon (essentially), has fun with it and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel; the films standout scene occurs early on and contains (bear with me, cause this gets pretty weird) a chase through Monte Carlo in which our heroes escape on a monkey and penguin driven armoured truck, while being pursued by animal control, which eventually ends up on a monkey powered aeroplane which has a banana firing minigun (which actually leads to the films best visual gag, but one that will be completely lost on the kiddies). It’s wacky, it’s bonkers, and it’s brilliant.
The 3D is easily the best I’ve ever seen, possibly due to the fact that the entire movie is composed of bright bright colours so the depth doesn’t get lost in the murk. As well as that, as it’s a kids movie a lot of things are shown being thrown at the screen and again, it’s refreshing to see a film have so much fun with the technique. The first time the animals put on the new and improved Cirque Du Soleil inspired performance is a joy to behold and looks utterly fantastic in 3D.
Some characters get the short shrift in regards to screentime, namely the hippo and giraffe, but the kids aren’t likely to care about that. Thankfully, the film plays to its comedy strengths so the Penguins get a lot of the best lines (there’s a reason they’ve been given their own series and soon their own movie). But the true test of the film is: does it make you laugh? The answer is a resounding yes.
Verdict: utterly utterly wonderful in every way. Funny for both adults and kids, and a great film to take them to over the Halloween break. Just be ready for the kids to be singing ‘Afro Circus’ for quite a while afterwards.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
Thanks to our sponsors at the Odyssey Cinemas for a well organised and fun night out.
Don’t forget to pre book your tickets here for Madagascar at the Odyssey Cinemas here.