Of all the crass DreamWorks Animation properties out there (“Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” etc) the one that seems the most rudderless and out-of-touch is the “Madagascar” franchise. The original film had a semi-funny premise, about a pack of wild animals in a New York zoo (portrayed by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith) accidentally washed ashore on the titular island.
The problem was that the characters were so thinly sketched, both from a design point (they seem to have been envisioned as 2D characters, with blocky, cartoonish features) and in their characteristics (they all but had to find the right gender/racial stereotype and stick to it!) The second film was a complete retread of the first, and now, with the teaser trailer for the third film, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (what an awkward title), we see them changing up the formula… not that it’ll be enough to get us to go.
The gang (including a batch of espionage-prone penguins) have found themselves in Europe in a desperate attempt to get back to Manhattan and are immediately seized upon as wanted criminals. Their idea? Join a traveling circus. The end. Although the clip does give a brief hint at Frances McDormand as the accented villain of the piece.
The movie continues to look flat and uninteresting, but if there’s one sign of hope it’s the fact that the film was written by Noah Baumbach (seriously – he gets sole screenwriting credit on IMDB), who is not only a very funny and wonderful filmmaker, but also was partly responsible for one of the best children’s films of the past few years, co-writing with Wes Anderson on “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Baumbach’s involvement will hopefully ensure a couple of Fellini references in there, at least. This ‘Madagascar,’ though, opening June 8th, 2012 (in 3D!), looks a little less than fantastic. [Yahoo Movies]