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“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” talkback

Andy Webster in The New York Times kinda liked it, saying “The humor is similar, but the scale is bigger, faster and brighter.” Betsy Sharkey at The Los Angeles Times was fairly pleased “The animation artistry of Madagascar 3 is at its best under the big top, all cotton candy fluff and razzle dazzle. The character development of this edition is the best of the rest as well.”

Dreamworks’ latest feature opened today – and we’d love to know what you think. Is the third time the charm? How’s the 3D? As usual, Talkback comments are open only to this who’ve actually seen the film. We can tell.

  • Doug Nichols

    Wacky family fun. Much funnier than I’d expected and everything from the trailer is pretty well out of the way in the first 15 minutes, so a fair bit of unexpected nuttiness. Great animation – nice job Rex, et al.

  • Nic Orizaga

    I really enjoyed it! Very action-packed from the get-go…awesomely hilarious villain and the new characters are all very likeable (with distinct personalities). My kids loved it and there were lots of kids dancing in the theatre!!

  • Can’t say I cared for it too much… Not that the animation or effects were bad… The excessive craning of melman’s neck was obscene… Ok, I get it, this is in 3d… those moments look soo out of place in 2d… Not to mention the story… Many times the jokes seemed to fall flat, and this flick could not have been targeted to kids, because most of the references were things only adults would know… In my opinion this series has finally taken it’s last adventure together… Europe was a bust for me, and I kind of liked the first one… Side note, was that whole song the main villan lady sang a reference to some film or something, because I was totally lost there…

    • The song is by Edith Piaf; here is a version:

      You may remember it from the movie “Inception.” Piaf is probably the most well-known French singer of all time.

      BTW I worked on it so I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like the film.

      • James E. Parten

        Edith Piaf may have been the best-known French FEMALE singer of all time–but more folks around the world would have recognized Maurice Chevalier.

      • From Google Search:
        Edith Piaf: 65,800,000 results
        Maurice Chevalier: 667,000 results

        But Chevalier was great so we can agree to disagree.

        By the way, one could also nominate
        Jacques Brel: 7,070,000 results
        but he was Belgian, not French.

      • It was a visual tour de force… It just seemed to rely heavily on references to other films… Some of the jokes just went over my head…. Doesn’t make it a bad film, I was just lost a few too many times..

      • James E. Parten

        The recording career of Edith Piaf only spanned some twenty-seven years (1936-63). That of Maurice Chavalier spanned fifty years (1919-69).

        While they were both alive, Chavalier was far better known to the average American then Piaf. He made motion pictures here from 1929 to 1935, and again afrer 1958. He also made many appearances on television, showing his sunny, accessible personality.

        Piaf was unknown outside of France before the late 1940’s. First American releases of her material did not happen until around 1948, when both Columbia and Decca released material of hers.

        Chevalier’s songs were intimately associated with him, and he carried them along with him. However, in his dotage, he continued to sing new material, rather than relying on the old warhorses alone.

        Songs associated with Piaf usually became hits because of other versions, often in English. Thus “Les Trois Cloches” (“The Three Bells”) was a bigger success for Les Compagnbons de la Chanson (the group that backed Piaf up on her own recording of the piece), or later for The Browns. “Hymne L’Amour” became better known as a vehicle for Kay Starr (“If You Love Me (Really Love Me)”. And “La Goulante de Pauvre Jean” became a hit here as an instrumental, after a mis-heard Transatlantic ‘phone call saw the title become “The Poor People of Paris”. (“pauvre gens” instead of “pauvre Jean”).

        The last of Piaf’s songs to become known here was “Milord”, which was a small hit for her–and later a small hit for Bobby Darin.

        The song used (quite impressively) in this film is one of Piaf’s late ones, and was used, I seem to remember, in “Bull Durham” as well. She would sing it in concerts, but it did not become a hit song.

      • JMatte

        I’ll be evil and add: Johnny Halliday 10,400,000 ;)
        They may have gone with the Piaf song because Inception is a recent film and the song would be more quickly recognised?

  • Steven M.

    It was decent. There were quite alot of things that made me laugh in it.

  • Glen

    For a film that is outstanding on every craft and technical level, it’s surprisingly disjointed and schizophrenic. As a “film,” it plays like a non-stop-blab fest sit com. Some good laughs, though.

  • Did that “Bababooey” line from one of the trailers make it into the actual film? If so, that’s a first for a family film!

    • JWB

      Yup Scott, one of the penguins says ” Babbabooey” ! Very funny film. Really enjoyed the tiger’s tail! ( oops, tale as in back story! )

      • Did it get a laugh of recognition?

      • Geoff

        Isn’t Bababooey a Howard Stern thing?
        Not a fan of him at all, but I think that was one of his jokes.
        Of is there another reference you’re thinking of?

      • James E. Parten

        Yes, “bababooey” is one of Howard Stern’s subalterns.

        Lore has it that he was trying to mention “Baba Looey”, and it came out “Baba Booey”. Great amusement, and Stern ran with it, and that fellow is known to this day as “Baba Booey”.

  • Mike

    And just as I was starting to respect Dreamworks’ storytelling…

    As others have said, the film was technically well-done. However there was nothing about it as a film I found funny or entertaining. DW needs to drop the pure kiddie schlock like this and focus more on ambitious films like Dragon and Panda.

    • Why not do both, like they are? You were once a kid who probably enjoyed pure kiddy schlock. Just because you aren’t now doesn’t mean there aren’t kids out there going through that time of their own lives…

      I doubt I’ll see the film since I’m not a Madagascar fan at all, but it looks like the animation is nicely done at least.

      • Jimmy F.

        Well, J.K. Riki, 20-30 years ago, I don’t think there WAS much in the way of “pure kiddy schlock”. Remember, back before CGI, the only guys making animated feature-length films were Disney, Bakshi and Don Bluth. And FAR more effort was put into films that they made, whether it’s The Great Mouse Detective we’re talking about, or An American Tail. All those films back then followed the Joseph Campbell model of storytelling, and had heroes and villains and classic conflicts of good versus evil. It wasn’t enough to just make a “comedy”, like most CG films targeting kids and families. I put comedy in quotation marks because, let’s face it, just making pop culture jokes is lazy, not funny. But that’s more of a jab at garbage like Smurfs or Alvin and the Chipmunks than Madagascar 3 here. Even if they’re not 100% animated.

      • If the film is designed as kiddy schlock, then it tells me the filmmakers are aiming low with their humor. There are enough bad films with nothing to say that are aimed at kids. Dragon and Panda are both have higher quality in storytelling, and IMO, whether they know it or not, kids do deserve better.

      • Mac

        Are you seriously saying the Joseph Campbell model of storytelling isn’t a lazy formula for “drama”. Isn’t it Save the Cat now? Save the Cat will solve all the secret mysteries of human storytelling.

      • “20-30 years ago, I don’t think there WAS much in the way of “pure kiddy schlock”.”

        Oh we certainly don’t REMEMBER the crap now, because why would our brains hold on to such crap? It existed, though, whether we remember or saw it or not…

        I hate using Wikipedia as an actual source, but I’ve got animating to do so I don’t have time to track them all down myself. That’s a good starting point, though. I myself remember some of the terrible, TERRIBLE stuff I used to love as a kid in the 80’s. Yes, much of it was on TV, but I think my point still stands. Every era has stellar art and art for the masses that barely squeaks by.


      • Mike

        Yes, and as you aptly point out, there’s a good reason we look to Disney, Bakshi and Bluth for animation from that era–much of the rest was worthless fluff. It’s Dreamworks’ prerogative if they want to churn out stuff like this to turn a quick buck. Just don’t expect me, as an adult who appreciates substantive animation, or the history books to respect them for it.

      • I’m not saying you should respect them, or feel any particular way about them- that’s your call, but merely there are people who enjoy this type of thing and to say they should go away and stop making them because it’s not your cup of tea seems to ignore the great number of people who love this series. Hence why I said “Why not do both” in my first response.

        If they ONLY made Madagascar films, I see your point. They make a variety, though, for a variety of audiences.

  • I don’t regret seeing this movie.It’s wild and wacky and full of eye candy and silly jokes,and compared to recent and upcoming fare,it’s a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously.Put your brain on neutral and just let it take you on a ride.

  • Anthony D.

    Unlike Shrek the Third, this threequel does proove that 3 times the charm. I absoultely enjoyed it, laughed a bit, all loose ends in this movie tied up, and enjoyed the song Love Always Comes As A Surpirse. Defintely the best Madagascar yet.

  • I saw Madagascar 3, not being a fan of the first Madagascar film, but I thought I’d see this one and try to give the series another shot.  After watching it, I think the reason I find myself not relating to these films is that I feel that humor is not grounded in any sort of logic or rules.  All four main characters act with the same manic energy, and after watching them for 80 minutes I still feel like I don’t really know anything about them.

    I know that we’re talking about a cartoon and that this is the world of Madagascar, but we all know that even the wildest, most manic Tex Avery cartoons, he sets up ground rules in each of his cartoons.  Here in this film, a lot of the gags feel arbitrary and don’t do enough to tell us anything or promote character development.  I didn’t understand the villain at all.  Why was she so driven to break her jurisdiction to capture these animals?  The fact that she’s psycho and has animal heads on the wall of her office doesn’t tell me enough.  Is she an animal control officer or a poacher?  And if her job means putting heads of animals on the wall of her office, who on earth thought it was a good idea to put her in charge in the first place?  Why isn’t animal cruelty after her?  The whole film she chases after the animals without any motivation or reason.

    I’d also like to know, what was the deal with the circus?  If they’re a traveling circus with no money, why does their next show look like Cirque du Soleil on ecstasy?  It’s like the film kept breaking its own rules without any valid reason.
    The only character I kinda liked and felt I could identify with was the seal, Stephano.  In his first scenes when Vitaly was throwing knives at him to shut him up, I liked that for as little as he was, he wasn’t going to let someone as big as Vitaly intimidate him.  It was kind of an endearing quality to give him.  I also liked that they were willing to poke a little fun at the big animation cliche of the main character losing his friends in the big drama scene.  But the circus animals reasons for getting upset were just stupid.  Alex’s group just saved their careers.  Who cares if they lied about being circus animals?  And they had a good reason for lying, considering they were being hunted, and they wouldn’t take them in unless they said they were circus animals.  Whose fault is that?

    I kinda wonder what went on in the story meetings for this film.  It seems like they dived in with several million ideas at once, without any singular voice to keep the whole thing grounded and give the film some sort of direction.  Most critics describe the film as being schizophrenic, and in many ways they’re not far off.  I just want to see an all out animated comedy done right for a change.  In the very best classic comedies, the gags are always driven by character.  Just look at anything by Keaton, Chaplin, Charlie Chase, Laurel and Hardy, or even modern day examples like Ren and Stimpy.  And because they’re driven by character, these comedies actually have something to say about them, and something to say about real life.  I don’t relate to the characters in Madagascar because I don’t know anyone like them in real life.  At least, not anyone who didn’t have something motivating their manic behavior.

    Overall, I thought it was better than the first Madagascar, but that’s not really saying much.  Implausible scenarios should make sense in their own way.  Otherwise it’s too much mania without the sincerity.

  • I watched Madagascar 3 yesterday, with my six years old daughter, plus 2 five years old boys. They quickly got aspired by a strange vortex, saturated by funny gags.

    I do agree with Mr. Caracappa’s comment : the feature’s structure is rather weak & artificial, the characters are thin formulas.

    But it works, it only works because it goes very very very quickly, and it is incredibly well animated. That kind of feature would be awful if it slowed down a little.

    With a professionnal eye : I kind of regret the stylistic disconnection between the animals and the humans. That’s what I already noticed with the first two features ; and it is more noticeable in that sequel because some long sequences are built around Madame Dubois pursuing the animals, trying to get the lion’s head.

    There are very funny – and dumb – sequences : especially those with King Julian’s love affair with a bear.

  • Clint H.

    I liked the first one, didn’t like the second one, this one…was like as if it were on speed. The first 15 minutes felt like it could’ve been it’s own short film that starts off a much better film like what Pixar does, a lot of the jokes were groaners (still hate that afro joke), and the pacing was so manic that it didn’t have time to develop a lot of the characters, though they weren’t horrible at all.

    But with that said, this is a well-animated movie. The second circus sequence with Katy Perry’s “Firework” playing was the highlight of the film for me, and I wasn’t bored. The script just needed more time for quiet moments and character development. That’s usually my problem with Dreamworks, they make films that’s the equivalent of a Saturday morning cartoon (with some exceptions). It may look nice, but there’s nothing to hold onto once you’re done watching it.

    But problems aside, it was a decent film, I guess. I think we all know BRAVE will be the better film.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Very funny. I thought a lot of the jokes were aimed at adults and flew right over the kid’s heads.

  • Mister Twister

    Perfect for people with ADHD! :D

  • Steve C.

    I enjoyed it very much on Friday – surprisingly. They had the French woman who sang the French song mentioned above (voice of Frances McDormand of “Almost Famous” and just about anything I can recall with the words “Joel and Ethan Cohen” on it :) ) replace the elderly “Nana” character from one of the earlier movies as the villian, sniffing hunting-dog style. And of course Chris Rock’s “March of the Gladiators” (Circus afro), parody, which everyone’s probaly heard just from the trailers.

  • Actually…

    The movie was hilarious and the penguins were in true form (loved the driving sequence. ) Our kids have seen it twice now because they found it so funny. They loved the girl bear and King Julian and of course the Chris Rock written Afro circus song.

    The Italian seal’s animation is kinda breathtaking. Very very good.

  • KyleB

    I saw this over the weekend and found it to be visually very entertaining, even if the jokes were weak. The more I reflected on the movie though, the more I hated its story- or rather its complete lack of one.
    Theres no central motivation or problem for the characters to deal with, and anything that might resemble a roadblock is dealt with as efficiently as possible or quickly swept under the rug. So everything just feels scatterbrained, and theres no stakes at all. Of course Mike Caracappa more eloquently describes this in his post!
    On top of what he said, I also feel like theres not really a handle on any of the characters. In Madagascar 1 it was easy to sum up each of the characters. In Madagascar 3 thats not really the case. I can’t really tell you who Marty, Melvin, or Gloria are in Madagascar 3. They’re just kind of there. Like the memorable thing about Melvin in the first film was he’s extremely neurotic. Here he’s the mildest bit nervous about not being able to dance, and when he expresses this he instantly learns. Other than Stefano and the Russian tiger, no one feels like an actual character in this movie.
    Its too bad such amazing visuals were wasted on such poor plot, gags, and characters.

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the shameless “Is that the sound of my HP Printer printing?” line.

  • Austin Papageorge

    It might be a little bit late to make further comments.

    However, I must say that the circus scene in London was one of the most beautiful film sequences ever.


  • Jow

    I Hate To Say This, But This Was Better Than Brave! (I Saw A Advance Screening Of Brave On Thurs.) Not Saying Brave Was Bad Though.

  • Pete S

    It really dismays me to see people saying this movie is better than Brave. Furthermore to see it with an equal percentage to Brave on RT (76%). This movie was god awful and an incredible waste of talent. I went in looking to have a fun time but nothing made sense and it just felt pointless.