Grae's Rating:

4.0

The birds are flightless, but the movie soars

Imagine if the 80s rode a spinning roller coaster and then in-between telling funny jokes, barfed all its neon on zoo animals. That's what Madagascar 3 is like. It seems a little frantic to my brain, but that must be because my cells don't regenerate as fast as the target audiences' do. No matter. This movie is so funny and sweet that it's official: this series actually gets better with each installment.

First and foremost, way to go Dreamworks, on infusing the writing team with a dose of Whit Stillman-like Soul-twisting Awkwardness. Eric Darnell, who wrote the previous two movies, is back, but with…wait for it…Noah Baumbach. Yes, the guy who wrote Greenberg and Margot at the Wedding. Since no one is undermining anyone else or trying to pass off a Pink Floyd song as their own, I guess the Baumbach stamp in this one is how smart it is. It's the same cute animals as before with their angular hair cuts, causing trouble. But it's definitely the most memorable of all three.

If the series has taught me anything, it's never to trust penguins. Just because they look like they're wearing tuxedos does not make them classy. At the end of the last film, the penguins headed to Monte Carlo, promising to return and pick everyone up so they could head home to New York. Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) get restless waiting for them in this one, so they swim to Monte Carlo. They blow the penguins' cover in a profitable gambling scheme and attract the attention of Captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), a sort of Ilsa the Blood Hound of France character who has no qualms about licking mud if it means coming closer to King Henry the VII-ing Alex. She is relentless and really good on a moped, so Alex and Co. hide in a traveling circus that turns out to be the worst circus since Michael Jackson died.

This film takes the usual amount of over-stimulation provided in animated flicks and amps it up about 100 times more, making it look exactly how I imagine Katy Perry's sex dungeon appears to the uninitiated. The good news is, while your kids are hypnotized and laughing at sea lions smacking into ravine walls after being launched out of a cannon, you're getting some really decent laughs and new characters that are a welcome addition to the universe. And then, as a bonus, during the insane climax of the film, you get to feel stoned without having to actually score drugs. It makes buying the 3D ticket totally worth it and will keep you in a happy daze afterwards. Just don't trust any penguins on the way home.

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