Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG)


DreamWorks' digimated menagerie of jungle pals, now a billion- dollar franchise, has been unleashed for a third go-round. It's more frenetic than ever, and rather less fun.

The unlikely quartet of Ben Stiller (lion), Chris Rock (zebra), David Schwimmer (giraffe) and Jada Pinkett Smith (hippo) start in Monte Carlo, where they must extract their high-living penguin friends.

Pursued by a big-game hunting police chief (voiced by Frances McDormand), the team joins a travelling circus with a view to getting back to their spiritual home – Central Park Zoo, New York.

The gags whizz by, some quite funny ("The labour laws are different in France – you only have to work two weeks a year"), most so-so. Best of the newcomers is Stefano the Seal, voiced in his second impressive turn this week by the great Martin Short.

But the chases and cliffhangers never pause for breath, and become merely exhausting. The finale, with each sequence topping the last, seemed to begin about half an hour before the end. Please, no more, you want to say. You think they'll listen?