What's this on my DVR? Oh, Splash! That delightful Ron Howard movie about Tom Hanks falling in love with a mermaid played by Daryl Hannah. Little weird that it's only an hour long (maybe it's edited for television?) and that it's on during prime time hours, but I like a good, insane, conceptual romantic comedy as much as the next gal, so I'll just roll with it.
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Hmm, this looks a little different than I remember it. I definitely don't remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being in this, but hey that guy was huge in the '80s, so that could very well be a cameo I missed. Louie Anderson was kind of a thing in the '80s, too. Keshia Knight Pulliam was a Cosby kid, so that would make some sense... although man, she's a lot taller than I recall. Drake Bell? I'm pretty sure you weren't even a zygote. And why the hell is he jumping into a pool with a perfectly good guitar?
Okay, so I think I figured this out: Splash is actually about a group of D-list merpeople like Kendra Wilkinson, Nicole Eggert, Chuy Bravo, Katharine Webb, Ndamukong Suh and Rory Bushfield who all must learn how to re-acclimate to the water to win Tom Hanks' love, and a wise ocean prophet (played by Greg Louganis) teaches them how to do it. Okay, maybe I remember this movie better than I thought. Though I swore Daryl Hannah was in this. Maybe that's this Kendra character? She's blond and pretty and talks like she's just been on land for the first time ever.
Alright, so, there's people walking down a red carpet high dive and into a pool of synchronized divers. Hey, the '80s were a weird time, man. The merpeople are all being introdcued, which seems crazy, considering we already established this during the opening credits. Oh haha, Kareem and Chuy came out at the same time. I think Howard was going for juxtaposition here, as one is very tall and one is very small. He was very ahead of his time in 1984.
WHOA, wait, what happened to Joey Lawrence? Where's his feathered hair? Is this some sort of Big situation? Am I watching the wrong fanciful Tom Hanks movie?
Oooh, a montage! Now I know I'm in an '80s movie for sure. Greg Louganis is training all the merpeople, and they are belly-flopping and attempting to go off the high dive. If I know anything about '80s movies montages, they're all going to be winners by the end of this and show the villainous Aryan Johnny what's what at the big ski competition. I mean, dive-off.
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Two guys named David Boudia and Steve Foley are making cameos, but I personally can't wait for Clint Howard to show up!
Keshia just said, "Life is like diving," which is the "Life is like a box of chocolates" of Splash. Man, this movie really laid the groundwork for Hanks' career, didn't it? Now, she's in a sparkly bathing suit that Dr. Huxtable would in no way approve of. She dives into the pool, but Steve tells her she's not ready to be a mermaid yet. So sad.
Alright, here's the gist of what follows, because for an hour, this feels like an eternity. How was this such a box office smash?
At first, Louie can't get out of the pool, but then, apparently, jumps from 23 feet "for the troops"; Katharine is the '80s vixen character who's out to convince us she's "more than just a pretty face"; Rory reveals he is an extreme skier which means... oh no, he's the Johnny Bad Guy of Splash (could have sworn that was Eugene Levy, but I clearly don't remember this as well as I thought); Kareem overcomes being taller and older to land face first in the pool.
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Hold the phone, why don't the other merpeople have to dive? Louie and Kareem are gone? Why are Keshia and Katharine having a dive-off? This plot is getting excessively confusing, especially for a Brian Grazer movie. Wait... this isn't the Tom Hanks rom com Splash... it's an ABC reality diving competiton!?! Oof. I miss the '80s.
[Photo credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC]
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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.