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Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Year: 2012
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
Director: Tom McGreath, Eric Darnell
Writer: Eric Darnell/Noah Baumbach
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Marin Short

You've seen it. Even if you haven't seen it you've seen it. Dreamworks is firmly in the cookie cutter 3D CG animated movie business, and every sugary morsel that rolls off the production line gives you a hit of what you expect and know and no more – a plot with every rough edge polished off, a riot of colour and movement, a lot of laughs and minimum downtime. The only thing creative about it any more is how precise a science they've narrowed the whole formula down to.

This time the gang are set to leave Africa, where they're realising life's much harder than in the Central Park Zoo. But when the penguins take off without them, they have no choice but to try and get home themselves.

They end up having to go through Europe because of some plot machination or other, and find the perfect cover to get back to New York when they fall in with a travelling circus where they'll fall in love, find their place, shake things up and everything else from the playbook.

But just like the average action movie is about plotting as a device to string together action scenes, this is plot device as a way of stringing together the fairy floss aimed at the target audience. It's amazing that this kind of craftsmanship was so eye popping just a decade ago, and now you don't even see it. proof again that something original is the really impressive special effect in Hollywood.

But wait, is that really Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson-lite director of The Squid and the Whale, as a credited writer?

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