British actress Carey Mulligan has won glowing reviews for her West End debut, with critics hailing her performance in Skylight as "moving" and "beautiful". The David Hare play, which opened at London's Wyndham's Theatre on Wednesday (19Jun14), stars Mulligan and veteran actor Bill Nighy as two former lovers who meet up after several years and reminisce about their affair.
The production, directed by Stephen Daldry, has won over reviewers, who heaped praise on the two leading performers.
Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph gives the drama five stars out of five and calls it a "knockout production", writing, "Nighy and Mulligan beautifully capture both the hurt and anger of lost love, and sudden piercing moments of enduring sadness."
The Independent's Paul Taylor hails Mulligan for her "moving, intensely focused performance", while Dominic Maxwell of Britain's The Times was most impressed by Nighy, who appeared in a previous production of the play back in 1996, calling him "a case study in charisma" and "an enormously seductive presence" who "boasts a performance of pure class".
Quentin Letts of Britain's Daily Mail gives similar praise to the lead actor, writing, "Bill Nighy at full belt on stage is astonishing, unbalancing, unforgettable" but adds that Mulligan "holds her own... to not be upstaged by a rampaging Nighy is an achievement".
Skylight will run until 23 August (14).
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
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Anne Hathaway could have been a double winner at the Oscars last year (13) if she hadn't dropped out of Silver Linings Playbook due to creative differences with director David O. Russell. The film's producer, Harvey Weinstein, has revealed Hathaway was the first choice to play mentally-unstable Tiffany Maxwell in the movie, but she fell out with Russell and was replaced by Jennifer Lawrence.
Both women won Oscars - Lawrence took home a Best Actress award and Hathaway a Best Supporting Actress honour for Les Miserables.
Weinstein tells radio host Howard Stern, "Silver Linings Playbook was originally going to be with Anne Hathaway and Mark Wahlberg... and then Anne wasn't doing it. And she's marvellous, and wonderful and she was my choice, I love her.
"We had Annie and then we had Mark... (and) then whatever happened, happened... David and Anne had some creative differences. They didn't see eye-to-eye.
"Then Jennifer Lawrence and two or three other actress came in, and the minute we saw Jennifer Lawrence's tape...
"I said, 'How the hell are we gonna replace Annie?' And then this amazing creature walked in."
Wahlberg's role went to Bradley Cooper, who was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.
Andrew Lloyd Webber — the man who breathed modern, musical life into Eva Perón, Jesus Christ, and the long unsung heroes of the Jellicle race — is apparently a big Jack Black fan. The Broadway mainstay has announced interest in adding a new project to his long list of stage staples: a musical adaptation of the 2003 movie School of Rock. Webber tells Broadway World, "[One] thing that I've just got the rights to that I am very excited about ... is that movie School of Rock."
Webber suggests that he will combine his own lyrical talents — which have resulted in classic numbers like "Memory," "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," and "Music of the Night" — with the rock and roll benchmarks present in the original Richard Linklater movie. "There may be songs for me in it, but it's obviously got songs in it as it stands," Webber says.
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This is an interesting tactic for the established composer, who seems to be drawing from the well of Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys, tapping into pop favorites of yore for a stage production. Fans will recall School of Rock boasting a soundtrack featuring artists like Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, Cream, The Clash, The Doors, David Bowie, and Steve Nicks, in addition to original songs penned by star Black and screenwriter Mike White.
Presently, Webber is in the process of developing a musical based on the life of physician and subject of political controversy, Stephen Ward. "So, I will go from Stephen Ward, which is really going to be sort of a chamber musical, to a musical about kids playing the guitar!" Webber says, once again invoking jealousy in the heart of Maxwell Sheffield.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
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Step right up, ladies and germs — it's time for your daily dose of television tidbits! It's all the news that's fit to print, in easy-to-read, tiny, digestible format. So what's going on in the wacky world of the small screen tonight? We've got casting news, a programming shake-up and more coming your way. So read on and let the tasty, tasty goodness wash over you. It's the right thing to do. Onward!
Scott Foley Gets Scandalous: America's favorite Felicity boyfriend, Scott Foley has hopped from one Shonda Rimes-helmed ship (Grey's Anatomy) to another, Scandal. While his role is a big mystery to us for now, it is said his character arc is a major one and will be kept tightly under wraps until it begins towards the end of season two. Mystery! Intrigue! Felicity! We're into it. [TVLine]
Bethenny Frankel Gives Business Advice to The Neighbors: Is there anything more Real Housewives-y than a handbag line? Several of the women from Bravo's reality series have done it, so it seems only natural to have arguably the most successful gal of the bunch hop into the mentor role for Debbie Weaver’s (Jami Gertz) handbag business. The role will mark Frankel's first venture into network scripted television. Clearly she's not letting a pesky little divorce get in the way of her career aspirations. [EW]
Not So Happy Endings for Apt. 23: ABC has decided to pull the plug on its double-up experiment with their two fledgeling series, Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B— in Apt. 23. Terrible ratings were to blame in this game, but the shows are both expected to still make an early exit from the schedule in March. Sundays will now see encore episodes of Shark Tank. Uh, not to sound like a total Negative Nancy, but now would be the time to force every single one of your friends and extended family members to tune in on Tuesdays, fans of these two series. [THR]
Rebecca Romijn Gets Piloted at TNT: TNT has given a series order to the Shane Brennan-created pilot King And Maxwell. The series — starring Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney was originally slated for CBS last season, but has made the switch after the NCIS: LA bossman Brennan got the 10-episode order from the network. The show, now untitled, is set to air in Summer 2013 and adapted its characters from popular author David Baldacci. The show will center around the private investigator antics of Sean King (Tenney) and Michelle Maxwell (Romijn). Former Secret Service agents each, their unique skill sets make them a force to be reckoned with, apparently! [Deadline]
Colin Ford Goes Under The Dome: CBS' buzzed-about upcoming drama Under The Dome has cast Colin Ford to play Joe, a teenager in Chester's Mill: one of those small towns that can only ever exist in New England, that is suddenly and mysteriously sealed off by an enormous transparent dome. It is based on a 2009 post-apocalyptic novel by Stephen King. [THR]
[Photo Credit: KM/FameFlynet Pictures]
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The funnyman presented the Overcoming Adversity award to Royal Marine hero Captain Si Maxwell, who lost his leg during combat in Afghanistan, at the The Sun newspaper's annual Military Awards - and Gervais was overcome with emotion during the prizegiving, which recognises the contributions of troops.
He says, "I was crying after the first one. I didn't think I was going to sit at the table and blub (cry), but it was so humbling for me. I wasn't ready for what a wimp I was. I cried immediately, I was a wreck. I'm dehydrated from crying."
In a post on his Twitter.com page after the event, Gervais added, "Possibly the most humbling, moving, yet fun and uplifting event of my life. An honour."
Kevin Spacey, supermodel Elle Macpherson and veteran British actor Sir David Jason were also among the presenters at the ceremony, which was attended by stars including Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne and singer-turned-TV presenter Myleene Klass.
British royal Charles, Prince of Wales was also at the prizegiving, and he admitted he feared for the safety of his sons, Princes William and Harry, when they are serving in war zones.
He says, "I really do understand the worry of service families when their loved ones are away serving in somewhere like Afghanistan. It's almost easier for those serving away than for those left behind because you worry all the time.
"So I do appreciate the extraordinary resilience and the unbelievable support provided by the families back here who encourage and remind their loved ones that they are there for them, despite what they are having to put up with."
Prince Harry is currently in Afghanistan working as an Apache helicopter co-pilot, while Prince William serves as an RAF search and rescue helicopter captain.
Does size matter? Significant others of the world may have varying answers, but in Hollywood, it doesn't hurt to have a long… list of credits. A rising star sparks with an audience in a handful of films, then quickly becomes the talk of the town. If they're lucky, they "attach" themselves to projects out the wazoo, hoarding potential vehicles that could be their next big hit if the stars eventually align.
That's the game Michael Fassbender is currently playing and thus far, it's serving him extremely well. Fassbender (who, as we learned in Shame, knows that size goes a long way) skillfully spun his success from breakout roles in indies like Hunger, Fish Tank, and Centurion into a hefty helping of starring roles both big and small. In the last two years, Fassbender rode the prestige wave to blockbuster parts in X-Men: First Class and Prometheus, with Shame earning him praise on the awards circuit. And the love for Fassbender hasn't cooled — along with the movies that have actually made it to screen, the actor has paired himself with a lengthy list of in-the-works projects.
This week, Variety recently announced his latest, Frank, an Irish comedy that sees the actor playing an eccentric rock star. The film is at the other end of the spectrum than something like X-Men, but that's Fassbender's style. He loves to work, and directors, producers, and everyone Hollywood loves to work with him. Even The Counselor and Twelve Years a Slave co-star — and one of the undeniable kings of Hollywood — Mr. Brad Pitt, who has leveraged his success into producing his own projects and is is highly selective of the material he tackles. Of course, he's still currently attached to 11 films in various stages of development.
And it seems Fassbender is taking a page from Pitt and his A-list contemporaries: Leonardo DiCaprio has eight acting projects in development, with two in the can (Django Unchained and 2013's The Great Gatsby) and one shooting (Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street); Pitt's wife, Angelina Jolie, is shooting Maleficent and has four could-be films on deck; Tom Cruise has four films, including the questionable Top Gun II (which he developed with the late Tony Scott); after Thor 2, Natalie Portman has five; and while Will Smith reportedly has 12 movies in development, admittedly, some seem implausible (a Flowers for Algernon remake?).
So where does Fassbender stand? With 11 projects in production, the actor's future is looking more and more like his Counselor and Twelve Years a Slave co-star's. Consider the projects he currently has in the works:
X-Men: Days of Future Past: A no-brainer sequel to the comic book movie success that's set for a July 18, 2014 release date.
Assassin's Creed: An adaptation of the popular video game would put Fassbender in the shoes of a legendary killer. The project was long-gestating but the recent announcement of Fassbender's involvement put the movie into high gear. Yes, he's making projects happen now.
At Swim-Two-Birds: Actor Brendan Gleeson's directorial debut that mixes Fassbender in with the likes of Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, and Gleeson himself.
Genius: From writer John Logan (Hugo, I Am Legend, Rango), the movie would star Colin Firth as editor Maxwell Perkins and chronicle his budding friendship with author Thomas Wolfe (played by Fassbender). Oscar-potential written all over it.
Jane Got a Gun: The producers of the movie couldn't confirm Fassbender's involvement when they sealed the deal for Natalie Portman to star in the Western, to be directed by Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin), but insiders say he's a near lock.
Londongrad: The real-life story of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, whose poisoning in 2006 spawned an international investigation. Fassbender would play Litvinenko, and it's the kind of dramatic material that, if it gets the go ahead from the studio, shows confidence in the actor's ability to draw audiences into less-than-marketable fare.
Mountains Between Us: Fassbender would team with Miss Bala director Gerardo Naranjo on a drama that follows man and woman attempting to survive in the wilderness after a plane crash.
Right as Rain: Game of Thrones showrunner David Benioff adapted the George Pelecanos novel about a detective who investigates the murder of a black cop by a white cop only to discover an underbelly to the entire situation.
The Sycamores: Although stagnant for a few years, Fassbender remains attached to the project described as "a King Lear-esque murder mystery about an ill-fated family reunion set under the swirling skies of 1970s Northumberland."
An Unititled Celtic Warrior project: Fassbender will also act as a producer for the film, which will see the actor play a superhuman warrior who helps his tribe fight against a rival group.
Prometheus Sequel: Rumors peg a sequel to this summer's sci-fi movie for 2014/2015. Fassbender could theoretically return. Whether he'll have time….
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Relativity Media]
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
While not as mainstream or easily accessible as the Hollywood film scene and its awards show The Oscars, The Tonys, the entertainment industry's annual celebration of all things Broadway, may be just as important as its big screen counterpart. Maybe even more so — a Tony win can lead to recognition in puts the spotlight on a show, actor or creative behind-the-scenes contributor. Suddenly, their theatrical endeavor is mainstream, and so is everything they do after. The Tonys is a career making show — the Academy Awards can't always say the same.
Tonight's show could kickstart a number of careers. Find out who the winners are by keeping up with this page all night! The Tonys begin tonight, June 10, at 8 EST on CBS. The winners appear in bold:
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Venus in Fur
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Book of a Musical
Lysistra Jones, Douglas Carter Beane
Newsies, Harvey Fierstein
Nice Work If You Can Get It, Joe DiPietro
Once, Enda Walsh
Best Original Score
Bonnie & Clyde, Music: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics: Don Black
Newsies, Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Jack Feldman
One Man, Two Guvnors, Music & Lyrics: Grant Olding
Peter and the Starcatcher, Music: Wayne Barker, Lyrics: Rick Elice
Best Revival of a Play
Death of a Salesman
Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Best Revival of a Musical
The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
Trcie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Cynthia Nixon, Wit
Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Follies
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies
Steve Kazee, Once
Norm Lewis, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Rob Raines, Follies
Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jam Maxwell, Follies
Audra McDonald, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Cristin MIlloti, Once
Kelli O'Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Laura Osnes Bonnie & Clyde
Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Tom Edden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Michael Cumpsty, End of the Rainbow
Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park
Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Spencer Kayden, Don't Dress for Dinner
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Linda Emond, Death of a Salesman
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly
Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Phillip Boykin, em>The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Michael Cerveris, Evita
Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It
David Alan Grier, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Josh Young Jesus Christ Superstar
Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Jayne Houdyshell, Follies
Jessie Mueller, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
Elizabeth A. Davis, Once
Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Da'Vine Joy Randoplh Ghost the Musical
Best Direction of a Play
Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors
Mike Nichols, Death of a Salesman
Pam MacKinnon, Clybourne Park
Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, Peter and the Starcatcher
Best Direction of a Musical
Diane Paulus, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Jeff Calhoun, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
John Tiffany, Once
Rob Ashford, Evita
Christopher Gattelli, Newsies
Kathleen Marshall, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Steven Hoggett, Once
William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Danny Troob, Newsies
Bill Elliot, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Martin Lowe, Once
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Daniel Ostling, Claybourne Park
John lee Beatty, Other Desert Cities
Donyale Werle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell and Jon Driscoll, Ghost the Musical
Tobin Ost and Sven Ortel, Newsies
George Tsypin, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Bob Crowley, Once
Best Costume Design of a Play
Paul Tazewell, A Streetcar Named Desire
Don't Dress for Dinner, William Ivey Long
Paloma Young, Peter and the Starcatcher
Mark Thompson, One Man, Two Guvnors
Best Costume Design of a Musical
ESosa, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Gregg Barnes, Follies
Eiko Ishioka, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Martin Pakledinaz, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Peter Kaczorowski, The Road to Mecca
Kenneth Posner, Other Desert Cities
Jeff Croiter, Peter and the Starcatcher
Brian MacDevitt, Death of a Salesman
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Christopher Akerlind, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Natasha Katz, Follies
Natasha Katz, Once
Hugh Vanstone, Ghost the Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti, One Man, Two Guvnors
Gareth Owen, End of the Rainbow
Darron L. West, Peter and the Starcatcher
Scott Lehrer, Death of a Salesman
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
Kai Harada, Follies
Clive Goodwin, Once
Brian Ronan, Nice Work If You Can Get It
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.