Animals running away with the circus and a princess running into the woods are the most notable debuts at second-run theaters this week. ---
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted finds the quartet of zoo pals -- Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) -- hiding from a relentless animal-control officer by joining a traveling circus. And it may be the most interesting and entertaining of the Madagascar films, a wonderfully surreal and candy-colored piece of funky fun that takes the situations in unexpected directions. It's not your typical summer kid-flick.
Far less successful is Snow White and the Huntsman, with Kristen Stewart as the fairest of them all trying to re-take her kingdom from her usurping wicked stepmother (Charlize Theron). Aside from Theron's sporadically amusing hamming it up, there's just not much here that proves worth anyone's time, piling on the atmospheric gloominess to the point where even a who's-who of the U.K.'s best actors, digitally turned into dwarfs, can't liven things up.
Finally, there's Jack Black reuniting with his School of Rock director Richard Linklater for Bernie, the fact-based dark comedy about a mortician who befriends a wealthy widow. Then murders her. Then tries really hard to preserve the illusion that she's still alive. Our Eric D. Snider praised Linklater for infusing the story with an authentic Texas feel, and described it as "irreverent, off-kilter fun."