Reviewed by: Laura Busch
|Featuring:||Ben Stiller … Alex (voice)
Chris RockMarty (voice)
David Schwimmer … Melman (voice)
Jada Pinkett Smith … Gloria (voice)
Sacha Baron Cohen … King Julien XIII (voice)
Cedric the Entertainer … Maurice (voice)
Andy Richter … Mort (voice)
Frances McDormand … Captain Chantel DuBois (voice)
Bryan Cranston … Vitaly (voice)
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Mireille Soria … producer
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Will Alex the Lion and his four-legged friends ever get back home to their beloved New York City? Alex (Ben Stiller) and his zoo pals, Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), and Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith) have been abandoned by the penguins, who have taken their airplane to Monte Carlo to gamble. More homesick than ever for their home at the Central Park Zoo, Alex and the gang make their way to Monte Carlo to find the penguins and head back home, but in true Madagascar fashion their plans are foiled when their plane breaks down once again. With a broken plane and a crazed animal control officer (Frances McDormand), nipping at their heels Alex and his friends join a traveling circus of animals on their tour across Europe. As they make their way across Europe, Alex, Marty, Mellman, and Gloria become friends with the circus animals and help them breathe new life into the dying circus act. As Alex and the gang help their new circus friends rediscover their passion for performing, they might just have a chance to get back home to the Big Apple once and for all if they can just impress the American talent scout at their performance in London.
The third installment of the Madagascar series stays true to the franchise’s over- the-top and often campy cinematic style. This latest installment is by far the most visually stunning with its vibrant symphony of colors, which come together in several beautifully choreographed animated sequences. Like it’s predecessors, Madagascar 3, is replete with pop culture references. Pop culture find its way into every aspect of the film from the film’s soundtrack, which includes songs ranging from Enya to Katy Perry’s now ubiquitous pop hit, Firework to the film’s aesthetic, which is filled with numerous visual references to other iconic film’s, such as “Mission Impossible” and the “Matrix.” Madagascar 3 holds its own as a movie, but in my opinion Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is the stronger and more entertaining of the two sequels. Madagascar 3 feels about 10 minutes too long, yet somehow this film’s deliberately ridiculous brand of humor and colorful aesthetic somehow all seem to work together to bring audiences a funny and entertaining movie.
The Madagascar franchise cannot be compared to the classic Disney and Pixar movies. Madagascar 3 lacks the strong and clear-cut morals that are almost always present in Disney’s animated films. While Madagascar lacks some of the charm and innocence of the Disney fairytales, it is certainly cleaner and more endearing as a film franchise than Dreamworks’ other animated franchise, “Shrek.”
Some of the more negative elements of Madagascar that may be of concern to some parents includes, several mentions of the penguins and apes gambling in Monte Carlo. There is also a moderate amount of comedic animated violence in the style of the old Warner Bros. Anvil cartoon gags. For example several characters slap each other, we see some of the characters get hurt and crash into things, many characters defy the laws of physics and fly through the air, the animal control agent shoots a gun, etc. … As far as sexual content is concerned, several of the characters are in romantic relationships. Gloria and Melman are still together, in love, and are very supportive of each other. King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) falls in love with one of the circus performers, a large bicycle-riding bear. King Julien delightedly remarks about her “very hairy back” and tells her “he likes that in a woman.” There is also a very cheesy slow motion sequence, where King Julien is taken by the bear’s beauty. This sequence is presented in a style that pokes fun at supermodels. Julien and the Bear are married in Vatican City and steal the Pope’s ring, but it is later recovered by the police. There is a brief joke about a circus that performs in the nude. There is a small amount of language. The word stupido is used about 5 or 6 times. In one scene, stupido is written on a mirror in lipstick. We hear “oh my G-d” uttered once and one of the characters exclaims, “that’s Bolshevik” in lieu of the profanity, BS. One of the circus performers tells Alex, “I know you think we’re just a stink poopy circus…” The strong presence of pop culture references may be of concern to some parents as well.
The strong and loyal friendships among Alex and his group is one of several positive elements in the film. The concept of admitting your wrongdoings, trust, and forgiveness are touched upon as well. Conquering one’s fears and facing one’s failures is one of the positive themes that really stands out in the story. We see the characters encouraging one another to face their fears, follow their live’s passion, and we also see them working together harmoniously to put together a fantastic circus act.
Even though Madagascar’s lacks the strong central moral that is consistently present in Disney and Pixar films, there are still positive lessons to be found in this film. Madagascar 3 is certainly one of the cleanest and best choices in theaters right now. Madagascar is probably most appropriate for slightly older children, and I wouldn’t recommend it for very young kids, though younger audiences will certainly enjoy the beautiful animation, bright colors, and gravity defying circus tricks. The showing that I attended was filled with junior high and high school age kids, who thoroughly enjoyed the film. Madagascar is a solid choice for a movie night with older grade school kids and teens, and is a great alternative for teenagers, rather than the usual innuendo laden PG-13 films targeted at junior high and high school kids.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.