Instead of developing the characters or situations for comedy gold, the filmmakers instead just crank up the chaos. So while some scenes are both funny and visually impressive, this second sequel is simply too inane to make us hope there will be a part 4. Very young kids may be distracted by the hectic pacing and hyperactive characters, but everyone else will quickly be bored by the nonstop mayhem, simply because there's nothing interesting going on.
Anxious lion Alex (Stiller), chatty zebra Marty (Rock), nerdy giraffe Melman (Schwimmer) and silly hippo Gloria (Smith) are living a Lion King-style existence in Africa, although their only hope for escape has just flown away. Namely, the brainy penguins and their monkey assistants. So our heroes follow them to Monaco, where they all end up on the run from the notorious animal control agent Dubois (McDormand). They run straight into a failing circus, which they set out to bring back to its glory days so they can catch the eye of an American promoter and go home to New York. To do this means working with the current circus acts: sultry cheetah Gia (Chastain), dorky sea lion Stefano (Short) and tetchy tiger Vitaly (Cranston).
The circus premise lets the filmmakers have a lot of visual fun with the characters, most notably in a riotously colourful Cirque du Soleil-on-acid performance in London. But the plot makes no sense at all (if they can get to Monaco, surely they could get to New York, right?), and there are so many new characters that the central quartet feels almost sidelined. Especially since they've also wedged in an under-developed romance for the lemur king (Baron Cohen). Yes, it's all over the place, and being busy is not the same thing as being clever or funny.
Fortunately, the animators keep our eyes happy, with some witty 3D gags and an elaborately staged finale that pieces together elements from the entire film. The vocal cast is full of energy, and yet the only one who's allowed to develop anything like a character is McDormand, whose Dubois is essentially just a collection of French cliches (she even sings that Edith Piaf number at one point). We're never bored for a second, but we're also never engaged. If there is a part 4, hopefully the filmmakers will take the time to actually write a proper script.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th June 2012
Box Office USA: $216.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $742M
Distributed by: Paramount/Dreamworks
Production compaines: Pacific Data Images (PDI), DreamWorks Animation
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 102 Rotten: 27
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Starring: Ben Stiller as Alex, Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII, David Schwimmer as Melman, Frances McDormand as Captain Chantel DuBois, Chris Rock as Marty, Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria, John Di Maggio as Rico, Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice, Jessica Chastain as Gia, Bryan Cranston as Vitaly, Martin Short as Stefano