Making the Grades
Still on the lam from New York City’s Central Park Zoo, Alex the lion (voice by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (voice by Chris Rock), Gloria the hefty hippo (voice by Jada Pickett Smith) and Melman the anxious giraffe (voice by David Schwimmer) have had enough of their folly and are ready to head back to the pampered confines of their enclosures.
But direct flights from the African Serengeti, where they landed in their last adventure, don’t exist. And the only plane out—one patched together by a passel of penguins—has just taken off for Monte Carlo. Once there, the wily birds plan to clean house at the principality’s famous casino.
After waiting weeks for their return, the four friends decide to hoof it across Africa and all the way to the luxurious gambling resort to meet up with their black and white pals. However, the large, free-roaming zoo animals cause quite a stir when the drop in at the ritzy establishment. As the guests go screaming from the game tables, the head of security summons the notorious, gun-slinging, animal control specialist Captain Chantel DuBois (voice by Frances McDormand).
The Captain’s idea of control involves decapitating and mounting her preys’ heads on her office wall. The one bare spot remaining is reserved for the king of the beasts himself. With animal instincts (that include sniffing the trail like a hound dog and lapping up pooled water from their paw prints), she loads her tranquilizer gun and sets off in search of the errant critters.
Since it’s hard to hide in a crowd, Alex and the others look for a way to surreptitiously traverse the European continent. Their answer arrives in the form of a circus train. Pretending to be entertainers themselves, the foursome and their tag along pals scurry aboard just in time to avoid the Captain. But after a dismal performance at the train’s first stop, Alex recognizes the show needs an overhaul if the group ever hopes to win a contract to appear in New York.
With the same humor as the two previous movies (Madagascar and Madagascar Escape 2 Africa), this script combines kids jokes with adult oriented quips that include mild crude humor and brief sexual innuendos. However the bigger problem may be the frequent use of weapons—particularly tranquilizer guns. Both animals and humans are shot at close range. Given the opportunity, the Captain also attempts to cut off Alex’s head with a handsaw while he is groggy. And thanks to the film’s 3D effects, explosions and flying objects appear to hurl into the audience on a regular basis.
With a darker villain and numerous moments of peril for the characters, this story isn’t for younger viewers. But then neither is the lyrics of Katie Perry’s featured song “Fireworks”, which seems to be getting as much play time in the movies as on the radio. While her tune may be catchy, be prepared to have the more annoying circus afro ditty rolling around your head long after you’ve left the theater.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
Why do Marty and Alex argue about who is the leader of the group? What responsibilities come with leadership? What sacrifices does a leader need to make for the others?
The script makes several jokes about the French and Canadians. How might people from those countries view these jabs?
What do the animals discover about their old home? How can our perspective’s change with new experiences? What lessons have the four friends learned about themselves and each other while on their travels?
Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment group famous for its circus arts, acrobatics and fantastical characters. The company, founded in 1984 by two former street performers, Guy Laliberté and Daniel Gauthier, now performs around the world and has a permanent show in Las Vegas. Check out a preview of their shows.