Leaving Africa in search of the Penguins, Private (Christopher Knights), Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller) and Rico, the four lost friends from the New York City Zoo, Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) are still trying to find their way home in this third installment of Madagascar. First stop though is Monte Carlo where they find the Penguins along with some wacky monkeys dressed as the King of Versailles gambling in the casino and winning by the way. Not far behind is their other group of friends King Julien XIII (Sacha Baron Cohen), Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) and Mort (Andy Richter) and all seven devise a plan to get the King out of the casino without alarming the public of wild animals on the scene. One problem, there plan doesn’t quite go as planned!
When the gang gets pegged after creating a mob scene in the casino, hot on their tails in hopes of mounting Alex’s head on her wall is Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand). After a wild chase throughout the city soon the gang along with the penguins and some hysterical monkeys find their way on to their plane only to soon crash causing DeBois to catch up to them in her vicious pursuit. The only place to hide and blend in is a traveling circus where they soon meet up with Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) a Russian Tiger with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, Gia (Jessica Chastain) a cheetah with a sweet disposition and Stefano (Martin Short) the hyper active Sea Lion. First stop, Rome and if they can impress an American promoter their next stop could be New York City, home to the Lion, Zebra, Giraffe and Hippo. Animal acts everywhere, dancing biker dogs, Elephants, a bear who King Julien falls in love with along with a pep talk by Alex and ‘FurPower’ is a success. In the end, DuBois, the zoo animals, circus animals and the monkeys, King, Maurice and Mort, these three absolutely hysterical, all come together with a not so perfect message but a near perfect animated adventure film. I must say I laughed out loud several times thanks mainly to the monkeys and little Mort who make subtle but hysterical supporting characters to the four main stars of the wild, zoo and circus.
A circus without people, could it be? Even through the film is absolutely hysterical, probably more so than the first two, it projects the wrong message about our animal friends. Nature would say the animals would be more at home in Africa, than the New York Zoo but when they decide that the circus is their passion the message here takes a very bad turn. Animals especially such large or exotic animals belong in their natural habitat. A zoo if need be at least strives to keep the animals stress free in the close as possible natural environment they can make but to say the animals are happiest in the circus is setting animal advocates work back 20 years. When “101 Dalmatians” came out in the theatre everyone was breeding Dalmatians which left many to be euthanized due to overabundance of the breed and now with this message I already heard kids in the theatre behind me saying “mommy I want to go to the circus”. Oh what a big error in judgment by the writers of this story. Unless their backers are the Ringling Bros. Circus! Hope not! If you can look beyond the story line as only being an animated comedy and not factual, than this film is sure to delight the entire family. Mom’s word of advice remind your kids of the fact that wild means animals that are not pets, performers or entertainers but rather wild, dangerous creatures that are not domesticated and belong in their rightful place, the wild. Even though the story line is far from correct in terms of us animal advocates, the animation, voice work and overall film is superb and truly the funniest of all three films. Written with three paws, could have been four out of four if the writers wrote a better ending, by Jon Patch.