The latest in the Madagascar franchise proves Dreamworks is still struggling to clear the lofty bar established by Pixar. It picks up in Monte Carlo as the pack of zoo creatures, led by Ben Stiller’s Alex the Lion, return to New York, where they meet a troupe of circus animals and get chased around by a wacky animal-control agent voiced by Frances McDormand (who also stars in this week’s Moonrise Kingdom).
Pacing, character development and story are poop-scooped in favor of predictable old-Warner-cartoons-style antics, and screenwriter Noah Baumbach’s attempts at humor come across as dated pop-cultural-referencing bombs. Veteran actors Bryan Cranston, Martin Short and Jessica Chastain add little with their voicing efforts, while Chris Rock’s Marty the Zebra is the most grating thing this side of the Sahara. The little ones may find amusement in the film’s hyperactive shenanigans, but you’ll want to shoot yourself with a tranquilizer gun.