After the worldwide success of the previous two animated adventures, a trilogy was inevitable and, this time, in 3-D. Citing inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote -- "Life is a journey, not a destination" -- the story once again follows the quartet of anthropomorphic animals who are determined to make their way back to New York City's Central Park Zoo.
Leaving the wilds of the African continent for the French Riviera, Alex the good-hearted Lion leader (Ben Stiller), Marty the irrepressibly boisterous Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the spirited Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the neurotic Giraffe (David Schwimmer) are looking for their primate and penguin friends who are determined to break into the bank at the casino in Monte Carlo in order to finance their trip home. Not surprisingly, their heist goes horribly wrong. Fleeing from the Principality's fanatical animal control officer, Captaine Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), who is dementedly determined to hang Alex's head on her trophy wall, the fugitives find refuge with a decrepit traveling circus (modeled on Canada's Cirque du Soliel, except that the real Cirque has no animals) which could, perhaps, wind up touring the United States. That's where they join up with Vitaly the foul-tempered Siberian Tiger boss (Bryan Cranston), Gia the sultry Jaguar (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the loquacious Sea Lion (Martin Short). Re-appearing also is Julien the Lemur King (Sasha Baron Cohen), romancing an enormous bear on a bicycle.
Styled after Miroslav Sasek's colorful illustrations, directed by Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon and Eric Darnell, who co-wrote the script with acerbic Noah Baumbach ("Fantastic Mr. Fox"), who undoubtedly supplied the snappy one-liners, it's frenetically paced and visually dazzling, filled with high-flying acrobatics, set to Katy Perry's "Fireworks," and making scenic European stopovers in Monaco, London and Rome along the way.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" is a short, silly 7, as the motley, madcap menagerie once again moves on, presumably to prepare "Madagascar 4."