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.
Are you tired of all award nominations announcements looking alike? Would you rather rag on crummy films than praise good ones? You're in luck today! The 31st Annual Razzie Awards announced their very specific nominations for the worst in cinema over the last year and man, was it a bad year. Of course, that means that the awards ceremony will be that much more fun! The festivities occur on Saturday, February 26th at Hollywood’s Barnsdall Gallery Theater and until that hilarious celebration of shitty movies goes down, you can relive the absurdity of the worst films of 2010 by glancing over the nominations list below!
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
THE LAST AIRBENDER
SEX & THE CITY #2
TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Jack Black - GULLIVER’S TRAVELS
Gerard Butler - THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Ashton Kutcher - KILLERS and VALENTINE’S DAY
Taylor Lautner - TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE and VALENTINE’S DAY
Robert Pattinson - REMEMBER ME and TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Jennifer Aniston - THE BOUNTY HUNTER and THE SWITCH
Mylie Cyrus - THE LAST SONG
Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis & Cynthia Nixon - SEX & THE CITY 2
Megan Fox - JONAH HEX
Kristen Stewart - TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jessica Alba - THE KILLER INSIDE ME, LITTLE FOCKERS, MACHETE and VALENTINE’S DAY
Cher - BURLESQUE
Liza Minnelli - SEX & THE CITY 2
Nicola Peltz - THE LAST AIRBENDER
Barbra Streisand - LITTLE FOCKERS
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Billy Ray Cyrus - THE SPY NEXT DOOR
George Lopez - MARMADUKE, THE SPY NEXT DOOR and VALENTINE’S DAY
Dev Patel - THE LAST AIRBENDER
Jackson Rathbone - THE LAST AIRBENDER and TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Rob Schneider - GROWN UPS
WORST EYE-GOUGING MIS-USE Of 3-D (Special Category for 2010!)
CATS & DOGS #2: REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE
CLASH OF THE TITANS
THE LAST AIRBENDER
SAW 3-D (aka SAW VII)
WORST SCREEN COUPLE / WORST SCREEN ENSEMBLE
Jennifer Aniston & Gerard Butler - THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Josh Brolin’s Face & Megan Fox’s Accent - JONAH HEX
The Entire Cast of THE LAST AIRBENDER
The Entire Cast of SEX & THE CITY #2
The Entire Cast of TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer - VAMPIRES SUCK
Michael Patrick King - SEX & THE CITY #2
M. Night Shyamalan - THE LAST AIRBENDER
David Slade - TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
Sylvester Stallone - THE EXPENDABLES
LAST AIRBENDER Written by M. Night Shyamalan, based on the TV series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko
LITTLE FOCKERS, Written by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, based on Characters Created by Greg Glenna & Mary Roth Clarke
SEX & THE CITY #2, Written by Michael Patrick King, Based on the TV Series Created by Darren Star
TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer
VAMPIRES SUCK, Written by Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
WORST PREQUEL, REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL (Combined Category for 2010)
CLASH OF THE TITANS
THE LAST AIRBENDER
SEX & THE CITY #2
TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
"Gladiator" continued to rule the box office this weekend, collecting another $24 million in tribute from moviegoers.
The R-rated action adventure from DreamWorks easily held on to first place in its second week with a hefty ESTIMATED $24.3 million (-30%) at 2,943 theaters (+40 theaters; $8,257 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.3 million, heading for about $150 million in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator's" per theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"Obviously, it's a strong hold," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. "The positive word-of-mouth continues to be very strong."
Although DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically, Universal is releasing it internationally. The two studios are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in its success. The film reportedly cost $103 million to make.
Directed by Ridley Scott, "Gladiator" stars Russell Crowe.
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth" opened in second place to a solid ESTIMATED $12.32 million at 3,307 theaters ($3,725 per theater).
"I'm happy to be number two," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "The reviews were not good. It shows how strong John Travolta is as a star. To come in number two in a very competitive marketplace is a nice place to be. Franchise is very pleased that it opened up (well). They're going to support the movie."
Directed by Roger Christian, it stars John Travolta, Barry Pepper and Forest Whitaker.
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, dropped anchor in third place, down one rung in its fourth week, but holding well with an ESTIMATED $5.78 million (-26%) at 2,820 theaters (+119 theaters; $2,050 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57.9 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
"We're very happy," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "I think 'U-571' has found its niche in the marketplace (and) it will continue to play. It didn't get hurt tremendously (this week), as much as it did last week from the opening of 'Gladiator.' Obviously, there's room in the marketplace for these kinds of films."
New Line's "Frequency," which was fourth last week, tied for fourth place in its third week, showing strong legs with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-26%) at 2,470 theaters (-161 theaters; $1,943 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.6 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theatres.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
"It's what we've said from the beginning - everyone who sees it, likes it," New Line executive vice president, distribution David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "Everybody's talking about it."
Columbia's opening of its PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage" tied for fourth place with a calm ESTIMATED $4.8 million at 1,506 theaters ($3,187 per theater).
"There was a nice turnout of teenage girls as the main audience," Sony Pictures Releasing president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "And there were very good exit polls on that segment (of the audience). It was 80% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and a 74% definite recommend. Those are numbers that certainly encourage us that we can go forward with this group. Actually, the reaction of the males that attended really was pretty good, also, but not many males attended."
Blake also pointed out, "It's a $19 million picture and should turn out fine (in terms of Sony not getting hurt on it)."
Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy and Ethan Stiefel.
Universal's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas," the PG rated prequel to the 1996 "Flintstones" blockbuster, which was third last week, tied for fourth place in its third week with a still-lively ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-28%) at 3,128 theaters (+77 theaters; $1,535 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.6 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Brian Levant, director of the original "Flintstones," the prequel stars Mark Addy and Stephen Baldwin.
"'Flintstones' is still the only family film (in the marketplace now)," Universal's Rocco said. "So we are pleased with its holding power this weekend. Hopefully, there will be room for it in the (coming) marketplace. Next weekend when 'Dinosaur' opens, it will just stimulate the family business."
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is" dropped two pegs to seventh place in its third week with a slower beating ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-30%) at 2,410 theaters (-29 theaters; $1,494 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.1 million.
"Heart," which cost about $15 million to make, was picked up by Fox for domestic and English speaking territories for only $9 million.
Directed and produced by Matt Williams, it stars Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusack.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Screwed" opened quietly in eighth place to an ESTIMATED $3.4 million at 1,759 theaters ($1,935 per theater), not nearly as well as its 12% first-choice tracking had suggested would be the case.
Written and directed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, it stars Norm MacDonald, David Chappelle and Danny DeVito.
New Line's PG-13-rated urban appeal drama "Love & Basketball" moved down court three positions in its fourth week to ninth place with a calm ESTIMATED $2.0 million (-39%) at 1,047 theaters (-145 theaters; $1,910 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.3 million, heading for about $30 million.
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, it stars Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13-rated romantic comedy "Keeping the Faith," down three notches in its fifth week with a slower ESTIMATED $1.9 million (-32%) at 1,569 theaters (-445 theaters; $1,179 per theatre). Its cume is approximately $32.3 million.
Directed by Edward Norton, it stars Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman and Edward Norton.
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Trimark Pictures' PG-13-rated urban appeal action romance "Held Up." Exhibitor Relations reported an estimate of $1.9 million, which would tie it for 10th place. Other distributors' estimates, however, had 'Held Up' coming in as low as $1.61 million, placing it 12th at 688 theaters ($2,340 per theater).
Directed by Steve Rash, it stars Jamie Foxx and Nia Long.
Miramax Films opened its R-rated contemporary version of "Hamlet," placing 26th with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.061 million at 4 theaters in New York and Los Angeles ($15,250 per theater).
Directed by Michael Almereyda, it stars Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Sam Shepard, Diane Venora, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles.
"We'll go to the top 10 markets this Friday on about 15 screens," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning.
DreamWorks held sneak previews Friday night of its R-rated youth comedy "Road Trip" at 800 theaters.
"They were very good," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. "The reaction was very positive and over 90% in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good). It ran 60-70% capacity."
"Trip" opens Friday (5/19) at about 2,400 theaters.
Directed by Todd Phillips, it stars Breckin Meyer and Seann William Scott.
On the expansion front, Paramount Classics' R-rated drama about teen suicide, "The Virgin Suicides" expanded in its fourth week, placing 19th with a weak ESTIMATED $0.62 million at 270 theaters (+170 theaters; $2,285 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.7 million.
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett.
Miramax's R-rated comedy "East Is East" added a few theaters in its fifth week, placing 23rd with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.21 million at 63 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,330 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Produced by Leslee Udwin and directed by Damien O'Donnell, "East" stars Om Puri and Linda Bassett.
Sony's Screen Gems label expanded its R-rated digitally shot comedy "Time Code" in its third week, placing 24th with an unexciting ESTIMATED $0.14 million at 42 theaters (+35 theaters; $3,214 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Directed by Mike Figgis, it stars Saffron Burrows and Salma Hayek.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated dark comedy "The Big Kahuna" went wider in its third week, placing 25th with an okay ESTIMATED $0.11 million at 16 theaters (+8 theaters; $6,737 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Directed by John Swanbeck, "Kahuna" stars Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Peter Facinelli.
Miramax's R-rated comedy "Human Traffic" widened in its second week, placing 27th with a stop-and-go ESTIMATED $0.034 at 26 theaters (+21 theaters; $1,325 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.05 million.
Written and directed by Justin Kerrigan, it stars John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington, Shaun Parkes, Danny Dyer, Nicola Reynolds and Dean Davies.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $79.40 million, up about 25.37% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $63.33 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 3.43% from this year's previous weekend, when key films grossed $82.22 million.
Last year, Universal's second week of "The Mummy" was first with $24.86 million at 3,226 theaters ($7,705 per theater); and 20th Century Fox's third week of "Entrapment" was second with $9.08 million at 2,879 theaters ($3,153 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $36.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
DreamWorks was first with two films ("Gladiator" and "The Road to El Dorado"), grossing an ESTIMATED $24.96 million or 31.4% of the market.
Universal was second with three films ("U-571," "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and "Erin Brockovich"), grossing an ESTIMATED $13.99 million or 17.6% of the market.
Warner Bros. was third with one film ("Battlefield Earth"), grossing an ESTIMATED $12.32 million or 15.5% of the market.
New Line was fourth with three films ("Frequency," "Love & Basketball" and "Final Destination"), grossing an ESTIMATED $7.98 million or 10.0% of the market.
Sony Pictures Releasing (Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems) was fifth with three films ("Center Stage," "I Dreamed Of Africa" and "28 Days"), grossing an ESTIMATED $7.70 million or 9.7% of the market.
20th Century Fox was sixth with one film ("Where the Heart Is"), grossing an ESTIMATED $3.6 million or 4.5% of the market.
(11)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 1,486 (-456) Gross: $1.64 million (-25%) Average per theater: $1,105 Cume: $118.4 million
(12)HELD UP/Trimark: (see above)
(13)28 Days/Columbia: Theaters: 1,755 (-658) Gross: $1.5 million (-36%) Average per theater: $855 Cume: $34.4 million
(14)Rules of Engagement/Paramount: Theaters: 1,618 (-643) Gross: $1.46 million (-40%) Average per theater: $900 Cume: $56.4 million
(15)I Dreamed Of Africa/Columbia: Theaters: 2,112 (0) Gross: $1.4 million (-42%) Average per theater: $663 Cume: $4.8 million
(16)Final Destination/New Line: Theaters: 944 (-159) Gross: $1.18 million (-28%) Average per theater: $1,245 Cume: $49.8 million
(17)Return to Me/MGM: Theaters: 1,203 (-500) Gross: $1.06 million (-30%) Average per theater: $880 Cume: $28.9 million
(18)The Road to El Dorado/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,027 (-501) Gross: $0.66 million (-28%) Average per theater: $640 Cume: $48.7 million
(19)The Virgin Suicides/Paramount Classics: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(20)High Fidelity/BV: Theaters: 361 (-191) Gross: $0.57 million (-23%) Average per theater: $1,590 Cume: $24.2 million
(21)The Skulls/Universal: Theaters: 573 (-296) Gross: $0.45 million (-34%) Average per theater: $785 Cume: $34.2 million
(22)Up At The Villa/USA Films: Theaters: 87 (-2) Gross: $0.29 million (-16%) Average per theater: $3,275 Cume: $0.8 million
(23)East Is East/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(24)Time Code/Sony/Screen Gems: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(25)The Big Kahuna/Lions Gate: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(26)HAMLET/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(27)Human Traffic/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)