Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of reviews Hypable will be running from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, currently taking place in France. Special thanks to our friend and critic, Marco Cerritos for the reviews.
The glitz and glamour of the Cannes film festival is mostly known for its star-studded events and world-class premieres. So far this year’s festival lineup has showcased been some very tough films to endure whose subject matter range from murder, suicide and psychological wreckage. It is with this emotional devastation that an innocuous entry like “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is a surprising and welcome addition to the schedule to balance out the dread.
This isn’t to say “Madagascar 3” is getting a pass solely on being one of the fluffier entries in a sea of hard-edged movies but it certainly helps that the film is fun and disposable without being annoying. Despite being the third chapter in the very popular Dreamworks Animation franchise you don’t need much catching up if this your first time. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) are celebrity voiced animated animals stuck in a whirlwind of globe-trotting adventures. Their escapades in the first “Madagascar” took them out of their New York City zoo sanctuary and they’re been jumping continents ever since.
Things come full circle in “Madagascar 3” as the animated gang is finally ready to return home to NYC but must first battle their way out of Monte Carlo where this story begins. Adventures include foiling a bumbling and persistent police captain voiced by Frances McDormand and navigating through Europe under the guise of a traveling circus to stay under the radar.
Co-screenwriter Noah Baumbach is the film’s biggest surprise given his previous track record writing somber, family dramas and the “Madagascar” franchise is anything but. My guess is he either wants to please his kids or his wallet but regardless, the film’s all the better with him contributing witty dialogue. Voice talent aside, it’s strange to think of big names, let alone a celebrated screenwriter, boarding a family franchise but it’s easy to spot Baumbach’s contributions to the film which obviously elevate the material to something that is also fun for adults and not just kids.
“Madagascar 3” also has the advantage of running at a very brisk pace which is always a good thing for family films. The plot is ridiculous but fun. The dialogue is adequate but not insulting. In other words, for empty calorie entertainment you could do a lot worse. It’s definitely saying something that while the third film in the franchise isn’t the strongest, it shows room for further adventures beyond this chapter. Whether those stories are lucky enough to premiere at Cannes however, is something else entirely.
Marco Cerritos is a fifteen-year veteran of the film critic scene in the Bay Area. When not arguing with friends over trivial movie plot points he spends his time traveling to film festivals and figuring out why Dubstep is so popular.
Rated: PG (for some mild action and rude humor.)
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted opens nationwide on June 8, 2012.
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