Review: 'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted'

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" starts out with some our favorite animated animals stuck in Africa, longing for the confines of the Central Park Zoo - I think. It's not really clear.

Once again, Ben Stiller voices Alex the lion, Chris Rock gives life to Marty the zebra, David Schwimmer is Melman the giraffe, and Jada Pinkett-Smith lends her dulcet tones to Gloria. I'd like to explain the plot but I'm not really sure it matters. A French game warden or something like one - it's not really clear, though she's voiced by Frances McDormand - is chasing after Alex and company after they break into a casino in Monte Carlo. Don't ask why; it's not worth explaining.

What is worth explaining is McDormand's character, Captain Chantel DuBois, is a rather ridiculous, over-the-top cross between Cruella De Vil from "101 Dalmatians", Javert from "Les Miserables" and Linda Blair's possessed Regan MacNeil from "The Exorcist". In order to hide from her, the animals join a circus featuring a knife-throwing Russian tiger named Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), who has an immediate disdain for Alex and doesn't believe Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria are circus animals. Because they're not. Sound interesting? Not very.

What will keep you hanging in there is the witty banter amongst the animals, particularly Stiller's Alex and Rock's Marty. The best play on words, however, belongs to Vitaly, when it seems he's about to deliver an expletive but replaces it with the word 'Bolshevik.' You're going to laugh when you hear it. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler.

Weak plot aside, there's plenty of entertainment value to "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted", especially for the kids. Still, McDormand's character is just plain bizarre and on occasion sucks the life out of this movie. Otherwise, "Madagascar 3? is a mishmosh of excellent animation, a few funny moments for the adults and lots of cool stuff for the kids to look at. The story's not great but it's good enough.

Three out of five stars.