After Cars 2, the prospect of another animated tentpole crossing the atlantic might feel as appealing as a giraffe-hippo lovechild.
Yet the third Madagascar quickly dispels any misgivings with a zippy installment that, while no masterpiece, ends up being a lot more entertaining than 2008’s Escape 2 Africa.
That is mostly down to Chantel DuBois, a french animal control officer with a loathing of any four-legged creature invading her turf.
Enthusiastically voiced by Frances McDormand, she finally gives Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) and the rest of the menagerie a decent antagonist as they make their way from Monte Carlo via Rome to London as part of a travelling animal circus they hope will finally return them to their old zoo home.
Persuading its acts they belong in their ranks, Alex and friends set about turning this decrepit sideshow into a Cirque Du Soleil-style, crowd-wowing spectacular that, for once, justifies the inevitable 3D.
Along the way Alex finds time to woo Jessica Chastain’s slinky Italian jaguar and lend a helping paw to Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), a flaming-hoop-jumping russian tiger suffering a crisis of confidence.
Bonkers lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), meanwhile, finds romance himself in the form of a tricycle-riding grizzly bear.
You don’t get much penguin for your money, as DreamWorks is apparently saving them for 2015’s slated spin-off, but for the most part, Madagascar 3 puts the franchise back on track, bearing plentiful evidence of new co-scripter Noah Baumbach’s (Greenberg) dry wit.
Just one question.
If the creatures can snorkel from Africa to Europe, why can’t they swim to New York?
The ghost of Tex Avery is alive and well in a frenetic sequel that does more than reheat and serve. Madagascar 4? Don't bet against it.