Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

Go To

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is a 2012 computer-animated comedy produced by DreamWorks Animation, and is a sequel to 2005's Madagascar and 2008's Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

The animals are still trying to find a way back to New York, and end up journeying to Europe, where they find help in a traveling circus. While dodging a fanatical animal control officer, they help make the circus a spectacular success as a means to an end (said end being getting to America).

Although it doesn't have a proper sequel (due to a planned fourth film being removed from the studio's schedule), the spinoff film Penguins of Madagascar takes place a short time after this film.


Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted provides examples of:

  • And the Rest: The New York City mayor welcomes back Alex... and the three other animals who happen to be with him.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Monaco is not part of France, so DuBois shouldn't have any jurisdiction there as a French Gendarme. Justified in that she doesn't care.
  • Ass Shove: One of the kids in the audience starts pelting an elephant with spitballs, and said elephant loses his balance. No prize for guessing where the kid ends up.
  • Badass Boast:
    Vitaly: I once was a brave tiger... and if I go down in flames, (laughing) so be it!
  • Becoming the Mask: The Zoosters masquerade as circus animals to hitch a ride on a circus train which is headed to New York where the zoo is. However, they grow attached to the circus and make new friends with the circus animals along the journey. And they eventually choose to stay with the circus in the end.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beyond the Impossible: Vitaly's performance; jumping through a hoop that may be only a few centimetres wide, and on fire; it's literally described as being physically impossible. In the climax, this is taken Up to Eleven when he jumps through a keyhole, carrying Marty and manages to take off his afro wig and put it on Marty while jumping through it.
    Marty: I am impressed!
  • Book-Ends: Following in line with Shrek Forever After, the third movie ends with Chantel DuBois and her lackeys getting shipped in a crate to Madagascar much like the gang in the first movie.
  • Call-Back: The Central Park Zoo clock features a lion attacking a zebra, referring to the main plot of the first film.
  • Character Development: The Penguins cement their transition into their The Penguins of Madagascar personalities in this movie. We see that Kowalski has created a 'nuke'-ular powered SUV, and Rico is specifically shown providing the dogs with rocket skates and using powerful explosives - one brief moment even shows him affectionately cuddling a stick of TNT.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: At one point as the group flees the casino, Kowalski winds up carrying Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman. All at once.
  • Chase Scene: With the Zoosters (and Julien, Maurice, and Mort) fleeing from Capitaine DuBois in Monte Carlo (and eventually joined by the penguins and the chimps). And it is absolutely madcap and insane.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Totally averted with regards to Captain DuBois and her equally determined and indestructible sidekicks. However, they do get a jab in at the French labour laws only requiring employees to work "two weeks a year".
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When tracking the zoosters, Dubois comments that Alex uses too much hair conditioner on his mane. Alex gives this hair conditioner to Vitaly in order to perfect the flaming hoop trick.
    • The diamonds and gold that were fished up from the dry riverbed in Escape 2 Africa were brought by the penguins to Monte Carlo, and are later seen being used in exchange to purchase the circus from its owners.
    • The news article DuBois prints off in her search for Alex ends up being what tips the circus animals off to the zoosters' true identities.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Alex's ability to cut things with his claw (like the glass, or DuBois's harness loop) comes in handy later when he needs to teach Vitaly how to safely resume his act.
    • Everything the characters come up with for their circus act in the third film.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Alex's parents do not appear and are not even mentioned in the opening scene in Africa. In Zuba's case this may be due to actor existence failure on the part of Bernie Mac and not wishing to recast out of respect, but it's odd they aren't even mentioned in dialogue.
    • Moto Moto also disappears, but he was a minor character to begin with.
    • Lola, the bobble-head doll who Skipper married, is neither seen nor referred to here. This strikes one as a little odd, considering the trip to Monte Carlo was supposed to be her and Skipper's honeymoon. The recap of the previous movie even changes the line from "honeymoon" to "gambling spree".
  • Circus Episode: The zoo gang joins a circus to hide from an insane animal control officer.
  • Circus Synths:
    • The circus' performance near the end of the movie is set to Katy Perry's pop song "Firework."
    • Afro Circus/I Like To Move It combines a silly song about afros, circuses, and polka dots (to the tune of "Entry of the Gladiators") with the dance/electronic instrumental tune of "I Like to Move It."
  • Clown Car: As the chimps make a deal with the ringmaster to buy the circus, you can see a large number of clowns piling into a Clown Car, with the Ringmaster getting in as well.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The penguins, thinking someone should tear down the Coliseum to build a bigger and better arena.
  • Cool Car: The car the Penguins hijacked, which features three sets of Omega-3 oil slicks and a nuclear reactor.
  • Cool Airship: The improvised "Afro Circus" near the end of the film basically takes "Travelling Circus" to it's logical conclusion by having an in-progress performance occur while fully suspended from Zaragoza's (normally decorative) hot-air balloons. With no single part of the rigging itself touching the ground.
    • Heck, one of the kids at the zoo actually calls it a "flying circus".
  • Cool Train: The circus train, a colorful Art Deco steam engine.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Parodied. The lemurs discover Sonya the bear's trailer, and when they see the sharp weapons, claw marks and dead fishes, you hear what appears to be this trope. But then it turns out it was just Mort singing.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Right when Alex discovers that Circus Zaragoza is completely incompetent during the Rome show, which would mean that the London show will suffer the same fate, denying them access to America unless something changes.
    • Happens again when the circus animals lean about the Zoosters' true identities.
  • Dark Reprise: "Alex, the lion!" of the first film, complete with subdued colors, night sky, and the characters being less lively, which is also noticeable in comparison to Alex's memory of it at the start of the movie, when viewing the mud model of New York.
  • Defictionalization: In-universe, Trapeze Americano. Something completely made up out of wholecloth, with each of the Zoosters trying to outdo the others to impress the circus animals, ends up coming completely true in a Grand Finale ending for Alex to take out the Big Bad. And it is awesome.
  • The Determinator: Capitaine DuBois. Between chasing animals miles out of her jurisdiction and nation and ramming through office walls and windows like they are paper while chasing the gang, you'll understand what one critic meant saying "she makes Cruella De Vil look like a quitter." Her determination is so strong that she can instantly heal her partners through the sheer inspirational force of her singing.
  • Deus ex Machina: The plot kicks off when it seems the main cast now have a clear route to New York on the Super Plane, only for a major part to break off and causes the plane to crash without any hope for repair due to the monkeys ran off and the police arriving.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Inverted with Kowalski's special invention for the getaway car... Gloria certainly knows how to pronounce the word, but Skipper knows what it really is...
    Skipper: We need more power! Time to fire up Kowalski's nucular reactor.
    Gloria: That's a nuclear reactor?!
    Skipper: Nuke-ular.
  • Dream Intro: The film starts with Alex having a dream about the penguins going away to Monte Carlo, but they don't plan to come back, leaving Gloria, Marty and Melman to become old in Africa and the scenery turns black-and-white. When he notices his old self, the latter shakes him which makes him wake up.
  • Eagleland: The American promoter. He even owns a bald eagle as a pet!
  • Epic Fail: Circus Zaragoza's performance in Rome, which made things even worse for our heroes considering that the penguins had just blown most of their money purchasing that circus.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The audience gets to know DuBois when she gives a speech to her subordinates about all the animals she's killed, complete with a heavy French accent, over-the-top gun twirling and shooting a dart at the spot on her gallery where a lion head is supposed to be mounted.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: The rainbow Marty flies through after being shot from the cannon, which may also have served as an inspiration for the neon circus act in London.
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: With the last of the money from buying the circus, Skipper buys himself false teeth. Then he has them capped in gold. Now he can eat apples!
    Skipper: (mouth full of teeth) Then I discovered I don't really like apples...
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The first time Gia appears at the door of the boxcar (when Alex says they're circus), a musical snippet of their love theme, "Love Always Comes As a Surprise", plays, and just before this when Alex is trying to convince Vitaly to let them on, a snatch of his theme song "Light the Hoop on Fire" which is heard in its entirety during his Backstory scene, plays.
    • When DuBois samples Alex's hair while tracking him, she notes, "Glossy mane. Too much conditioner." Said conditioner becomes a plot point late in the film.
    • Gia moans she's tired of sitting, staying and rolling over. Guess what Alex has DuBois do in the climax?
  • Funny Afro: Need we bring up "Afro Circus"?
  • Funny Background Event:
    • You can see Bluehair's poodle and the duckling that got gobbled by the crocodile, King Julien's gecko, Steve and a few other Dreamworks/Madagascar critters. on Dubois' trophy wall.
    • One of Dubois's men (the same one that appears to be wearing mascara during her rendition of Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien checking out her butt while she sniffs the animal musk. Proceed to him getting slapped by the guy next to him.
    • During the scene when Alex is giving his Rousing Speech to Vitaly, a Chalk Outline of the lion can be seen on the wall, with knives sticking out of it from target practice.
    • "Hyperdrive!"
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Played with in Vitaly's case. At first it seems he is falling prone to the Malaproper aspect of the Funny Foreigner, since he makes the inadvertent puns "Wipe that Smirnoff your face and Popov!" with an absolutely straight face and no indication he knows he got the words wrong. This is subverted later though with his Getting Crap Past the Radar (literally!)/Unusual Euphemism moment, since he most certainly knew what word he should have said instead of "bolshevik"...
  • Furry Reminder: In the scene where Vitaly the tiger and Alex the lion are arguing about the former's leaving, Alex tries to tear away some of Vitaly's things; a ball of yarn flies free and they both spontaneously start to roll it and bat at it like regular cats.
  • Grand Finale: This film concludes the Zoosters' journey back home to Central Park Zoo. But their time spent with the circus makes them realize they truly belong there.
  • Groin Attack: The old lady Nana did not appear in the movie, so Alex was safe from such an attack from her this time around. But when he, Marty, Melman and Gloria ride by train with the circus, Vitaly throws his knives at them, and he comes very close to hitting the lion in the groin after all.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Aside from the one in charge being a Captain Obvious, the cop who holds DuBois in prison thinks he's smart by checking on the Concealing Poster and looking for a Ceiling Cling, but in the end he falls prey to Fakeout Escape and Decoy Hiding Place.
  • Gunship Rescue: Downplayed, in that there are no actual guns barring Zaragoza's cannon (which is only used to throw out tightrope/trapeze lines), but the "Afro Circus" near the end of the film is used to break the Zoosters out of the CPZ.
  • Hartman Hips: Capitaine Dubois has quite a large and plump bottom half.
  • He's Back: Vitaly lost his passion after being burned in his ring-jumping act. With help from Alex, he regains his confidence and becomes a star again.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    Alex: (in the Colosseum) You know, my ancestors used to perform here.
    Marty: You don't say?
    Alex: Yup, they had a captive audience for every show.
    Marty: Really?
    Alex: They say they really killed.
  • Human Cannonball: Marty and Stefano choose the cannon act for their part in the circus.
  • Husky Russkie: Vitaly the Siberian tiger.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: After Vitaly convinces the other circus animals to forgive the Zoosters:
Skipper: I never thought I'd say this on American soil; but the Russki is right.
  • I Choose to Stay: Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City, but realize that they have grown to prefer being free after all, and so decide to become a part of the circus permanently.
  • Impact Silhouette: Gloria leaves one in the casino's steel lockdown door after her Negated Moment of Awesome.
  • Irony:
    • The Zoosters head to Monte Carlo to retrieve the penguins and chimps in order to get them to take them back to New York - all while being completely unaware that the penguins were just about to head back to Africa that day in order to take them back anyway.
    • The very thing Vitaly made fun of, Alex's glossy fur and mane, ends up being what helps him survive the fiery hoop unscathed, via the non-flammable hair conditioner, and then gives him back the glossy fur he used to have.
    • DuBois ends up being Alex — roaring at Central Park Zoo.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Though the animals that do so are small enough that an actual cake is used, and Mort ate a fair portion of it from the inside.
  • Killer Rabbit: The toy dogs. One of them is voiced by Vinnie Jones!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Done to DuBois when she's shot with her own tranq dart, made to pose on Alex's rock just the way he used to do, made to lie down and roll over, and eventually shipped off to Madagascar.
  • Leitmotif: DuBois has one whenever she makes an appearance.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: Used as Captain Chantalle Du Bois is called out to capture Alex. We see her loading up briefly, and then she finishes by applying her lipstick and popping her lips.
  • Love Theme: "Love Always Comes As A Surprise" for the relationship between Alex and Gia.
  • Meaningful Echo: Complete with accent.
    Alex: And if we go down in flames? So be it!
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: When the circus resolves to save their zoo animal friends.
  • Monumental Damage: This happens to some of the ruins in Rome during Sonya and Julien's Falling-in-Love Montage.
  • Mood Whiplash: Amidst all the colorful wackiness of the third movie there's a quiet drama scene with Alex the lion and Vitaly the tiger. In the middle of it, for no apparent reason, the two cats have a brief slap fight over a ball of yarn.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Vitaly.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Skipper says that after they double their money on their last roulette they'll return to Africa and pick up the "hippies" to bring them back to New York. Then the Zoosters crash the casino, literally.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: If the series continues beyond the third film, it will have to take on a different focus since Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City and realize that they prefer being free after all.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Alex leans on the pulley, ends up dragged up by the rope, and dropped into Gia's arms...just in time for the tarp to drop and reveal them to everyone else, complete with a Dramatic Drop by one of the elephants.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Russian, not Latin, but this accompanies Vitaly's more threatening moments.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Martin Short's Italian accent as Stefano drops when he strains his voice, like when crying for help.
  • Out of the Inferno: DuBois's appearance at the casino is this, thanks to a car the penguins' SUV ran over.
  • Parasol Parachute: DuBois does this during the finale.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party:
    • The completely awesome rescue of the Zoosters by the circus animals during the finale makes use of everyone's abilities and acts — from Stefano's cannon act shooting the line across the park, to Gloria and Melman's dancing, to Gia's trapeze act pulling Alex out of the line of fire, to Vitaly's hoop jump getting Marty out of his cage through the keyhole, to Julien and Sonya's bike act, all of it made possible by the penguins and the monkeys rebuilding a flying machine to carry the circus into battle. Even Mort gets to tranq DuBois. Alex's Defictionalization of Trapeze Americano also makes use of multiple characters: Marty, Gia, the dogs' rocket boots, even Dubois as she accidentally frees the 'aquatic' cobras!
    • As a Visual Gag this also occurs in a lesser form during the infiltration of the casino, where the four vents on the roof are each shaped like one of the Zoosters.
  • Product Placement: All over the place, but the third movie in particular has this gem:
    Italian prison guard: (stuck in his own cell as DuBois uses his PC) Is that the sound of my HP printer printing?
  • Reality Ensues:
    • When Gloria steps on the glass wall at the casino when she wants to declare herself as the leader, she breaks the glass ceiling with her immense weight, with her friends plummeting down with her.
    • Upon giving chase to Julian and Sophia on an Italian police moped, Dubois is immediately pursued and arrested for theft of police property and subsequently resisting arrest.
    • Vitaly found out the hard way that using olive oil to lubricate himself and then set a hoop he was going to jump through on fire would lead to a near-fatal accident.
  • Reveal Shot: Melman, wondering how he and the others are going to escape from the cops when the circus boxcar is right behind him.
  • Rousing Speech: To rally the circus animals, courtesy of Alex.
  • Rule of Cool: Vitaly's ring jumping act. It is explicitly noted to be in total defiance of the laws of physics, but not only is he capable of slipping through impossibly small holes, he can carry Marty with him. Through a keyhole. Note that the wire fencing around the door has much wider gaps than the tiny keyhole!
  • Saving the Orphanage: A major part of the plot of the third movie, with both the future of the circus animals and the Zoosters getting back to New York depending on turning Circus Zaragoza into a success so they can win the contract from the American buyer. And despite the cliche, it's carried off beautifully.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Inverted. DuBois isn't in it for the money. She just wants Alex's head on her wall.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Skipper mentions he wants to invoke this in regards to the laws of physics, specifically that he wants to be so rich he can fly a solid gold airplane. Fortunately, this never actually happens.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the penguins prepare to push the chimp army too far, they bail on them.
  • Self-Deprecation: In the second advert for the third film against the mash-up between I Like To Move It and Afro Circus.
    "Status report."
    "Some good news: this song is almost over."
    "Well, that's music to my ears."
  • A Simple Plan: The four Zoosters will slip into the casino through the air ducts; Julien, Maurice, and Mort will shut off the power; and then Alex will be lowered down through the skylight he and Marty got open so he can snatch the King of Versailles and they can make their escape. Naturally it all goes wrong: Alex and Marty get into an argument over who should lead and why which ends with Gloria accidentally smashing through the skylight so they all drop in full view of the people, and Julien, who had been constantly demanding to know if it was time to shut off the power is suddenly too "busy" stuffing pencils in his mouth, nose, and ears to bother with it until it's almost too late. The whole thing ends with the penguins bringing in their SUV, the casino being wrecked, and DuBois being called in to capture them.
  • Snap Back: Escape 2 Africa ends with Alex finding a sense of belonging in Africa and happily telling the Penguins they can take as long as they like. This film opens with Alex as desperate to return to New York as he ever was. Can possibly be justified by the fact that the penguins have apparently been gone a really long time.
  • Spanner in the Works: After being shot with a dart by Dubois outside of the Zoo, King Julian quietly and unknowingly to the Animal Control, wanders back to the circus to make amends with Sophia. The Penguins find the dart in his tail and realise that the Zoosters are in dire trouble.
  • Spent Shells Shower: Parodied with the banana machine guns, which shoots the banana and ejects the peel.
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: Vitaly throws his knives to be this for Stefano when he's trying to escape DuBois.
  • Team Hand-Stack: The Zoosters do this at the beginning.
    Alex: To home.
    Marty: Home!
    Melman: Home.
    Gloria: Home.
  • That Man Is Dead: Despite his overall aggressiveness, Vitaly gives the second kind of response (regretful) to Alex when the lion asks where "the other Vitaly" went, which is what lets him end up proving he isn't gone after all.
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • The French animal control people recover from their hospitalization miraculously once Chantel starts singing.
    • Vitaly's theme, complete with Soaring Russian Chanting, plays during the London show after Alex inspires him to stand by his friends and resume his act better than ever.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: When Marty is shot out of a cannon, the Born Free theme reappears.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: It's only after their successful London show that the truth of the Zoosters not being circus animals is revealed (courtesy of a flyer DuBois brings with her) which point, of course, the Zoosters had not only established close bonds with the circus animals and vice versa for two of them, but had realized they enjoyed being in the circus and didn't really belong in the zoo any more or want to go back to it. It's actually rather heartbreaking.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Alex, when facing off with DuBois.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: When the circus arrives in New York City, the completed One World Trade Center (a.k.a. "Freedom Tower") can be seen in the background, indicating that the events of the film take place at least a year after its film's release in 2012, when the tower was still under construction. (However, the proposed Two World Trade Center won't be built. Interestingly enough, Escape 2 Africa shows the original Twin Towers during Alex's childhood.)
  • Underestimating Badassery: In a rare total aversion, the Zoosters and the penguins take DuBois seriously, and DuBois views Alex has a Worthy Opponent.
  • Up, Up and Away!: Vitaly assumes this position when leaping through the ring.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The fossa from the first film are just trying to survive and Makunga from the second film is more of a Jerkass than a villain. Captain DuBois on the other hand, is out to murder Alex. As in literal, first-degree, premeditated murder. Even after Alex is re-contained in the zoo (at which point her warrant expires, and Alex becomes zoo property), she makes it very clear that she won't be satisfied while Alex still draws breath.
    DuBois: (to Alex more than to the Mayor) It was never about the money.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: Downplayed: during their staying at London, the Zoosters find out the heroes weren't circus animals at all. How was that possible? Well, Captain DuBois promptly left a few flyers showing the truth in their circus.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Julien and Mort burst from the cake early in the film, Mort says "My tummy is speaking to me". Cue a river of pink oozing from the tiny deranged critter's mouth.
    Julien: Uh, I wouldn't eat that side of the cake if I were you.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The legions of African chimps that Mason and Phil recruited to the gang in Escape 2 Africa bail on the gang when Skipper tries to overwork them, and are never seen again.
  • Where It All Began: The climax takes place in the Central Park Zoo. Though this time, all of the heroes are trying to escape it, having decided to remain free.
  • Younger Than They Look: Gia.
    Gia: Show me!
    Alex: Pfft, "show me". What are we, five?
    Gia: I am five!
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Captain DuBois at the end of her rendition of "Non, Je ne Regrette Rien", as well as her male subordinates.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: