We last saw Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) in Africa.
This time, the furry quartet swim to Monte Carlo, where they spoil the penguins’ casino trip and earn notice from a relentless animal control officer, Captain DuBois (Frances McDormand).
With the captain on their tails, the four race through the city on land and in the air before hopping on a circus train.
The circus could be their ticket back to New York, but only if Alex and his pals can inspire the other animals to greater heights in order to impress an American circus promoter.
New characters include Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), a cranky tiger with a tragic past, Stefano (Martin Short), a sea lion who aspires to average intelligence, and Gia (Jessica Chastain), a leopard with a vaguely European accent who might have a crush on Alex.
All three have the potential to be clichés, and there are some predictable moments. But, hey, you never have to wait long for a burst of action to keep the show moving.
The most consistent source of laughs is Captain DuBois, who lightens the mood while also providing all of the menace in “Madagascar 3.” That’s a nice trick by McDormand, as well as the writers, Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach.
Julien the lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) has his own subplot, as he and his love interest, a bear of few words, cause havoc from Rome to London.
Fans for the first two films will have fun, and newcomers to the franchise won’t feel too left-out. The animation is suitably cartoonish with some inspired moments.
Realism isn’t a big concern for a movie about talking animals, but “Madagascar 3” serves up more surreal moments than the first two films combined. I suggest taking the kids and going along for the ride.
I give “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” a B plus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson 106.7. She gives "Madagascar 3: Euprope's Most Wanted" an A: "I had a good time. All of the kids in the theater seemed to have good times, too. I'd see it again."