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.
After 10 days of treatment, musician Billy Joel is set to leave Connecticut's Silver Hill Hospital on Wednesday, reports the New York Daily News.The 53-year-old singer intends to head straight for his home in the Hamptons following his stay at the clinic, which specializes in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Joel's spokeswoman said that following some down time in the Hamptons, he will head to Chicago, where a new stage show titled Movin' Out, featuring his songs, is holding its pre-Broadway tryout.
Nicole Kidman, who is headed to Romania next month to shoot parts of her next film based on the Civil War-era novel Cold Mountain, may have to contend with rather unusual dressing quarters: a bus used by a former communist dictator. The Associated Press reports that the bus once carried Nicolae Ceausescu, who was executed 13 years ago, around the country on working visits. The bus has since been refurbished with solid wood furniture and a luxury bathtub.
John McEnroe said he is very disappointed with the statements his ex-wife Tatum O'Neal made on ABC's 20/20, including allegations that the former tennis pro took steroids when he was on the pro tennis tour, reports AP. O'Neal, who was responding to McEnroe's new autobiography You Cannot Be Serious, said he also used marijuana and cocaine, but only off the court. The interview airs Friday.
Go Bernie Mac! The comedian is in talks to star in the remake of the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner for Columbia Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The original feature, directed by Stanley Kramer, starred Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as parents whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter begins dating a black man, played by Sidney Poitier. This summer, Mac is set to begin work on Charlie's Angels 2; Head of State, directed by Chris Rock; and Bad Santa alongside Billy Bob Thornton.
Will Smith and Ryan Phillippe are teaming up to produce White Boy Shuffle, based on a novel by Paul Beatty, Variety reports. The film follows a young black kid whose Santa Monica, Calif., beach life comes to a halt when his family moves to South Central Los Angeles. How Stella Got Her Groove Back's Kevin Sullivan is attached to direct.
Lil' Romeo will star opposite Jessica Alba in Universal's Honey, a music-driven coming-of-age drama about a tough inner-city woman who wants to start a neighborhood dance studio and is then discovered by a music mogul. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, directed by music video director Billie Woodruff, begins production Sept. 9 in Toronto.
Jim Henson Pictures, the company behind The Muppets, is teaming up with MGM to make a film about a group of alien dogs, Variety reports. Good Boy! follows the adventures of an alien dog that comes to Earth from Sirius, the Dog Star, to investigate reports that his fellow canines have abandoned their original plan to take over the planet. Shooting is scheduled to begin in August in Vancouver, Canada.
Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, James Taylor and Ray Charles will perform on the NBC special The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular live from 9 to 10 p.m. ET and also from 9 to 10 p.m. in each of the other three continental time zones, Launch.com reports. Rob Lowe will host the hour-long special, which will feature special guest appearances from former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Harrison Ford, Mike Myers and Sigourney Weaver.
Rapper Jay-Z and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons are among some of the big names in the music business planning to demonstrate at New York City Hall against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed school cuts. "Hip-hop artists have the biggest mouths, bigger than any mayor in this country," Simmons told New York Daily News. "We've all been too silent about the cutbacks, but if hip-hop artists decide to help fight them, no one can beat them."
The rock band KISS is getting into the condom business. That's right, the legendary band members known for their outlandish makeup will have their own line of KISS Kondoms, available online and in record stores. "Sex is always embarrassing for people, so when a guy whips out a KISScondom and there's Gene Simmons' tongue hanging out, it lightens up the situation," Simmons told Reuters.
Comedian Bernie Mac, hot off his hit Fox TV series The Bernie Mac Show, will be joining the angels--Charlie's Angels, that is. He is set to replace Bill Murray as Bosley in the sequel, directed once again by McG and starring those three bombshells Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. According to Variety, Murray wasn't expected to reprise the role after his reported clashes on the set of the Columbia Pictures 2000 original feature film.
After the demise of her TV series Dark Angel, star Jessica Alba is bouncing back. She is in final negotiations to star in the film Honey, playing a sexy-yet-tough city gal who ends up becoming a successful video choreographer. Big stretch.
It's been about 22 years, but fans of John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces will finally get to see a big-screen adaptation. Miramax bought the rights from Paramount Pictures and plans to start production in the fall. No stars or directors are yet attached, Variety reports.
Cedric the Entertainer is going to be busy for the next year or so. He will be co-starring in Universal Pictures' Intolerable Cruelty, directed by Joel Coen and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney. The story is about a gold digger (Zeta-Jones) who falls in love with a high-powered divorce attorney (Clooney). As well, Cedric is going to star in and produce the comedy Family First for Fox Searchlight.
Infamous college basketball coach Bob Knight is heading for the big lights. The coach, known for his volatile temper, will be making an appearance in the upcoming Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler movie Anger Management. The film focuses on a mild-mannered businessman (Sandler) who is accidentally sent to an anger-management course taught by the aggressive Nicholson. Can't wait for that one!