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.
Ladd replaced Fawcett and played her character's sister Kris Munroe for 90 episodes between 1977 and 1981.
But the actress was convinced she'd face a bitter backlash from Fawcett's loyal fans.
She says, "I was really nervous because I was stepping in and hoping beyond hope the show would work with me in it. Let's face it, there were big shoes to fill. So I said, 'OK, if I could be funny and make mistakes, then I have something to play that makes sense to me.'"
Ladd paid tribute to her predecessor at Saturday's (17Apr10) TV Land Awards, where Fawcett was honoured with a special tribute - 10 months after she lost her battle with anal cancer.
The musical was named Outstanding Comedy Series at the GLAAD Media Awards over the weekend (17Apr10) - and on the same night, the series won the Future Classic Award at the TV Land ceremony.
Glee actress Jane Lynch stepped on stage to pick up the trophy, and she also presented the Icon Award to singer Debbie Harry for Blondie's contribution to music and popular culture.
Tom Hanks reunited with his Bosom Buddies co-stars to accept the special Anniversary Award prize, celebrating 30 years since the sitcom's TV debut.
The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond also reunited on the night to pick up the Impact Award for their contribution to TV history, while filmmaker Mel Brooks was handed the Legend Award for his work on films including Get Smart and The Producers.
Former Charlie's Angels actresses Cheryl Ladd and Jaclyn Smith attended the event on behalf of late friend and co-star Farrah Fawcett, who was honoured with a special tribute at the gala in California.
Voters at last night's closing ceremonies of the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford's annual showcase of independent film, were swayed by women's endeavors. Personal Velocity, a movie trilogy about three women dealing with life-altering experiences, won the grand jury prize for dramatic feature and best dramatic cinematography and Real Women Have Curves won the audience award for best dramatic feature.
The grand jury prize for best documentary went to Daughter From Danang, which follows an Amerasian child's search for her natural mother after she was adopted by an American woman. Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, examines the roles of freedom songs in South Africa's battle over apartheid and took the audience prize for best documentary as well as the annual freedom of expression award.
Somali-American community leaders have called for a boycott of Black Hawk Down, charging that the film depicts their homeland's people as savages, The Associated Press reports. Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justica Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, fears the film could create a backlash against refugees who fled to the United States. Omar cited the death of a Somali man punched at a Minneapolis bus stop in October, which triggered accusations in the Somali and Muslim communities of a hate crime.
Two anti-fur protesters claiming allegiance to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made their way onto the catwalk at Italian designer Donatella Versace's haute couture show in Paris on Saturday, Reuters reports. One woman managed to partially unroll a poster that read "Fur Kills. PETA" before being tackled by security. Stunned audience members included Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, who later exchanged jokes about the incident.
Supermodel Niki Taylor filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Conde Nast (Glamour magazine's parent company), claiming that representatives of British Glamour manipulated and coerced her into exposing scars from her April 2000 car accident for a photo shoot. Taylor claims the photo's publications will result in "irreparable harm" to her career, TheSmokingGun.com reports.
Singer/songwriter Dido won best album and best newcomer at the music industry's NRJ awards in Cannes on Saturday. Jennifer Lopez won best female artist, beating out Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Geri Halliwell and Mariah Carey. Michael Jackson won best male star but was not there to accept his award. The gala kicked off the 36th annual Midem music industry festival.
In Who Wants to be a Millionaire news, seven former and one current star of an Aaron Spelling series will be featured on ABC's Millionaire on Feb. 11, 12 and 13, MediaWeek reports. Scheduled to appear are Shari Belafonte (Hotel), Gabrielle Carteris (Beverly Hills, 90210), Stephen Collins (7th Heaven), Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat), Cheryl Ladd(Charlie's Angels), William Shatner (T.J. Hooker) and Robert Urich (Vegas).
Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has landed a role in a new British film called Thunderpants, Ananova reports. Rupert, who will play a child genius who invents a special pair of pants to help his friend become an astronaut, called it, "the windiest film ever."
For the next 7 days, movie fans who had the opportunity to design the official poster for the upcoming movie Resident Evil starring Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, will have the power to choose the winning entry. Five semi-finalists have been chosen from more than 3000 entries and their artwork is now posted online at resident-evil-the-movie.com.
Rapper C-Murder has been arrested in the shooting death of a 16-year-old at a nightclub, the AP reports. Police in New Orleans have accused Corey Miller, 30, of fatally shooting Steve Thomas following an argument on January 12, at the Platinum Club in Harvey, La., but the rapper has not yet been formally charged.
The program finds the lovely star of "Charlie's Angels" and daughter of '50s Hollywood star Alan Ladd returning to her hometown in South Dakota for a musical get-together at a tavern called Ma's Place.