But I had a bit of interest in
3. Perhaps it was in part thanks to the viral power of the silly ‘Afro Circus’ song – especially mashed up with things like Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ –
which was probably all a forced marketing campaign but still worked neatly. It
looked entertaining, if mindless and stereotype-driven. Madagascar
And it was mindless and stereotype-driven, but that was no big issue. It was fun, and the ending was both more spectacular and cleverer than I had ever expected. I loved the overblown circus spectaculars and I loved the way once the main characters got what they wanted, they realized it really wasn’t what they imagined, or worth leaving behind what they had. The new characters got the bare minimum of development – except maybe the brilliant sea lion Stefano – but it was expertly done so that they were likeable and I cared about them, while the rapport between the central characters – well, I don’t know if it was that way from the start or something that developed, but the rapport between them was great. It’s an unlikely collection of voice actors – is it the only thing David Schwimmer is doing these days? – but sometimes throwing a group of unlikely companions together is exactly what works best.
As for what I said about the aesthetic being a very expensive way to look ugly, that’s really limited to character designs, and though they’re generic and not especially appealing, they do also manage the feat of imprinting themselves incredibly quickly and indelibly on the consciousness, and once there are unforgettable.
There’s not a lot at stake here, and the storyline written on paper is pretty dull, relying on the bouncing between two plots – the animals try to pass as circus performers while a crazy animal control officer hunts them – but the two are juggled deftly and the combination of acrobatics, bright colours and attractive locales including Monaco and London keep the piece engaging until the end. In short, nothing that will change lives or stun audiences by being wildly different from expectations, but well-written, funny and pleasant to look at. I would not be averse to checking out the previous films now, nor to spin-offs…though this would be a very neat way to end the main series, with the zoo animals finding their way back home and realizing that everything they’ve experienced on their journey means they no longer need it.