By Joe Ostrica

I was always disappointed in the “Madagascar” movies. There, I said it.

Sure, the original film that featured Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jaden Pinkett-Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) had solid animation and a talented cast of voices, but it just never had enough story or jokes to sustain my attention for a full feature film. The sequel, which also made a lot of money around the globe, was even more disappointing than the original.

      Now comes “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” a film that I was about to write off, but then found myself amused by its plot, the gags and the supporting characters. The actual plot kicks in after a lot of jokes and some slam-bang action chase sequences making it feel like the first 20 minutes were enough material for a feature.

      Our four heroes, and their sidekick scene-stealing penguins, monkeys and Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), are still attempting to return to home, a zoo in New York City. The animals are pursued by Animal Control captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand) after a heist goes wrong in Monte Carlo. Dubois is an unstoppable force of nature that makes nabbing the animals her life’s mission.

      The animals are lucky enough to hop on a circus train, only after convincing the animals on board they too are circus animals. Not only do our heroes have to watch their backs with DuBois and company hot on their tails, but they have to figure out how to keep the tough circus animals off their backs and come up with a way to pull off being circus performers.

      With the addition Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston and Martin Short, the film has solid talent in the supporting character voice department. The visual jokes, the terrific animation and the action should please most audiences in this rare sequel that bests its predecessors. Rated: PG. Grade: B

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