Since it worked so well for my White Collar recaps, I'm going to do the Elevator Recap here as well: that is, a brief recap that would last as long as an elevator ride. (OK, maybe a 50-story ride with all the buttons pushed.)
Dewey tried to kill Wade Messer under the cover of night in a forest, but Messer got away and Dewey took a bad tumble trying to find him. Of course. It's Dewey. NOTHING ever goes right for him. As if to drive that point home, it was revealed in Art Mullen's office that Messer was a confidential informant for the government. Art Mullen sent Raylan Givens to go look for him since the C.I. had missed a prearranged phone call. Since Mullen also knew that Givens had history with Messer -- the dope had helped Dickie Bennett set up the deputy marshal for Bennett to try to kill him in another season -- he sent along Tim Gutterson, another marshal, to keep an eye on Givens.
Later Dewey woke up to find himself lost, with no cell phone reception. After stumbling around a while and even bargaining with God, he found his intended victim again, sprawled on the ground, dying. He was about to finish him off when a family that was hunting nearby saw Dewey, who was quite bloodied from his own fall. The dimwitted Crowe was able to get them to take him away on their ATV, leaving Messer behind unseen.
In their search for Messer, the two marshals found other Crowes, including Kendal, a young teen boy who was tending bar at Dewey's whorehose, along with a rather ornery pit bull that belonged to Danny Crowe, who was staying at Messer's place. There was no sign of the C.I.
In other situations, Boyd and Cousin Johnny met at the jail, along with Ava. It was a nice public Boyd attempt to foster a truce, but Johnny was having none of it. Boyd wound up having him followed by one of his men. He was going to go see him ... with some firepower. It was just as he was leaving that Givens and Gutterson came in, looking for Messer. Boyd had known he was a C.I. and was feeding him bad info. Boyd gave him the number of the burner phone that Messer was using and Givens located him, with the help of some circling scavengers, dead. Dewey and Darryl Crowe (Michael Rapaport) also saw that Messer was no longer on this planet, which spared Dewey from having to try to finish the job.
In jail, Ava was threatened by a male guard and nearly raped in her cell, but a female guard was looking out for her. She intervened and then later beat the male guard up outside, warning him that Ava was protected.
Mullen had a conversation with Ed Kirkland, the Chief Deputy of the Detroit branch, about a possible lead in the Nicky Augustine murder and went out there to a talk to one of the Canadian mobsters that Boyd and Wynn Duffy had met in a previous episode. The mobster indicated that the late Sammy Tonin had said that he had a Kentucky lawman in his pocket and that Mullen could talk to Picker, who was staying at Duffy's. This was pretty heavily pointing at Givens, though it really was an FBI Agent that was dirty (and was also dead).
Darryl gave Dewey a rah-rah speech about how the Crowes were going to do some really remarkable stuff in Harlan. Givens then came and took Kendal into custody, since he had been serving alcohol to people as a minor. Darryl said that he wouldn't let him and it looked like there might be some gunfire, but Kendal decided to go with Givens into custody.
Raylan was with Allison and after they finished having sex, she was ready to have him leave, but he got her to talk about her day and she talked about a horrible situation with a father chaining his son to a radiator. The lawman decided to stay the night and comfort her.
Mooney showed Lee Paxton the fake dead hand of Boyd, so as to throw the scent off there. Mara, his wife, asked if he still wanted to pursue charges against Ava. He said he did, which would clear the way for her to make a romantic move on Boyd. Hmm.
After seeing that Johnny had teamed up with Hot Rod Dunham, Boyd found more hidden bodies at Johnny's location.
Things are going to get really interesting with Givens and Mullen, especially now that Chief Deputy is digging even more into Augustine's death.
Boyd is going to really lay the hammer down on Dunham and Johnny soon.
I foresee a big fight between Ava and Mara at some point in the season.
Michael Rapaport is a great actor, but I am not entirely seeing his menace as Darryl Crowe. Sure, he's willing to have people killed -- even his own family -- but I think he'd run screaming from Maggs Bennett if he'd met her. She bludgeoned her own son's hand, for crying out loud. Darryl's more the delegating type.
Alison seems more and more like a good match for Givens. I hope nothing happens to her.
"Are you a midget? That's a midget shovel." -- Dewey to Messer, who only had a tiny shovel, ostensibly to look for buried money.
"Blah Blah Blah Blah. I almost forgot how much I hate the sound of your voice. Using every word in Websters without saying a thing." -- Johnny to Boyd, who does love to use SAT words every opportunity that he gets.
"Well, you ain't tailed a Crowder." -- Boyd admonishing his man to be careful in following Johnny.
"Did it get you?" -- Givens asking Gutterson if the dog had bit him as they clambered up car roofs to get away.
"No, but I think something just came between me and my Calvins." -- Gutterson always has a line even under duress.
"You want to challenge?" -- Boyd to Gutterson. Of course Boyd would play Scrabble with Gutterson while waiting for Givens to checkout Messer's whereabouts.
"You'll have to talk to Picker.""Picker?""Yeah. I don't know if that's a first name, a last name or a nom de guerre." -- The Canadian mobster showed Mullen an impressive vocabulary. Maybe he picked up a bit from Boyd.
"You going to send him back over the river?""Might as well. We've got too many damn Canadians here. Justin Bieber, Celine Dion...""Steve Nash." -- Mullen and Kirkland
"You sound like you're trying to sell me tires." -- Dewey to Darryl about his Crowe family pitch.
Troubled by unfortunate event after unfortunate event The Watch sidesteps faux pas to come out on top as a consistently funny sci-fi comedy that doesn't let its high concept tangle up a bevy of one-liners. The script penned by Jared Stern Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg assumes you've seen a few movies before entering the theater (mainly any sci-fi movie made in the 1980s). "Summer movie logic" is the foundation for The Watch's ridiculous plot which finds four adult nincompoops teaming up to form a Neighborhood Watch trying to solve the murder of a local Costco employee and eventually pursuing a killer extraterrestrial. Instead of making sense of it all The Watch wisely focuses on its four leads: Ben Stiller Vince Vaughn Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade — a quartet whose bro banter goes a long way in spicing up the dust-covered material. There's nothing revelatory to be found in The Watch but the cast's knack for improv a poetry of the profane makes the adventure worth…viewing.
Director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod) establishes his two-dimensional characters quickly and bluntly smashing together broad personality types like a Hadron Collider of cinematic comedy. Stiller's Evan is a micromanaging do-gooder who can't find time for his wife; Hill's Franklin is a mildly disturbed weapons enthusiast yearning to join the police; Ayoade is the quaint weirdo who joins the Watch to fill the void left by his divorce; Vince Vaughn is Vince Vaughn: a loud crass gent looking for a bit of male bonding. The ragtag team assembles to fight crime but they spend most of their time drinking beers in a minivan — an affair they dub "stakeouts." A perfect opportunity for banter.
For a movie about enforcing the law and alien invasions there's a surprising lack of action in The Watch. Long stretches of the film see the central players yapping back and forth about everything: Russian nesting dolls peeing in cans or the similar viscosities of alien goo and human excrement. Charisma goes a long way and Vaughn does much of the heavy lifting making up for lost time out of the spotlight (he's been virtually nonexistent since 2005's Wedding Crashers). The man spits out jokes like no other — the rest of the cast barely keeps up. Ayoade balances out Vaughn's bombardment with a tempered timed delivery that's uniquely British and rarely found on the American big screen. Even when nothing's happening in The Watch it's rarely boring.
The Watch is at its best when it goes a step further mixing the group in with outsiders and throwing them off their rhythm. Billy Crudup cuts loose as a creepy neighbor and its delightfully weird while the always-impressive Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan's wife Abby brings unexpected warmth to the couple's relationship. Sadly The Watch mishandles its greatest asset: the aliens. The film never finds a pitch perfect blend of comedy and science fiction (Ghostbusters or Galaxy Quest this is not); a few scenes where the two come together hint at the best possible scenario but more often than not The Watch avoids its sci-fi roots. A moment in which the guys haul a dead alien back to their man cave plays like an E.T.-inspired version of The Hangover credits. It's lewd and ridiculous but the rest of the film struggles to maintain that energy.
Stiller Vaughn Hill and Ayoade have all proved themselves able funnymen capable of taking weak and tired material up a notch which they're forced to do in every moment of The Watch. Schaffer can handle his talent but his direction isn't adding anything to the mix. By the third slow-motion-set-to-gangster-rap scene The Lonely Island member's obsession with non-cool-coolness is officially just an attempt at being cool (which is not all that funny). The Watch has a greater opportunity than most comedy blockbusters to go absolutely bonkers: it's rated R. But instead of taking its twist and running with it the movie plays it safe. In this case safe is non-stop jokes about the many facets of human reproduction.
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.