Saturday, November 8, 2008

In the jungle [Madagascar 2]

Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa [PG]
Grade: D
Cast: Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

Sitting down to watch Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa, I quickly realized that I remembered almost nothing about the original Madagascar.

After sitting down and watching Madagascar 2, I find that I already remember very little of it. If you’ve seen one group of animated animals, ultimately you’ve seen them all. This is a pedestrian sequel to a pedestrian original.

So a lion, a hippo, a giraffe, and a zebra hop into a plane …. If you’re expecting a punch line, I guess it’s fair to say that there are a few. But when this group of animals on vacation from the Central Park Zoo crash-land into the African savannah, it never quite finds enough good punch lines to earn its pride. Or its herd?
The greatest attention falls on the antics of Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), whose showmanship has given him the nickname The King of New York. His accidental trip to Africa plops him right in the middle of a power struggle in his old pride, between his father and his enemy.

While watching Alex, I kept thinking that he was the least interesting character. His showmanship, dancing, and diva act gets repetitive. But then we turn to the other animals – the hippo and her romance with the beefy hippo. The hypochondriac giraffe and his … what was he doing exactly, again? Fortunately, there are some definite chuckles with Chris Rock’s zebra, suffering an identity crisis in an endless herd of identical black and white stripes. The best thing about the films continues to be the musical sequences, which often are loopy fun.

The film does smooth out the look of the animation when compared to the first film. The original Madagascar was plagued by the uncomfortably angular nature of its figures. That problem fades.

If there’s one group of animals that have been consistently funny in the two films, it is the foursome of jaded, resourceful penguins. In this one, they steal a jeep, fix a plane, and conduct labor negotiations with monkeys. It’s like they‘ve flown in (well not flown - they're penguins) from a different film – the consistently funny animated adventure next door. Which raises a troubling question. Should a comedy need comic relief?

5 comments:

Daniel Getahun said...

Yikes.

Yet another critically panned box office winner.

I'm starting to agree with you that this year is gradually losing its sheen.

pardes said...

Madagascar Escape 2 Africa it is hot and coolest ever I have just saw the movie. After been waited so long to see it those penguins really can fly. Adventures movie with lot of enthusiasm inside. Melman, King Julien, Maurice, Moto Moto and Zuba are the correctors I loved most. Unbelievable animation work they look real saw the movie at http://www.80millionmoviesfree.com with lot of interest surely it be a biggest ever animation

Sam Juliano said...

This particular film had loser written all over it even before it was released. Even my five kids (ages 12,11, 9, 8, 6) came hope divided on it, which in itself was revealing. The D rating is dead-on, methinks.

Sam Juliano said...

As to the year 'losing it's sheen' Dan, (although you didn't say this, but are agreeing with K. Bowen) these films released this year: (this is aimed at K. Bowen's orginal statement lamenting the state of the movies this year, not at my dear friend Dan.)

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
DEAR ZACHARY
SYNEDOCHE, NEW YORK
THE POOL
EDGE OF HEAVEN
THE VISITOR
WALL-E
THE DUTCHESS OF LANGLAISE (Rivette)
ALEXANDRE (Sokorov)
MAN ON WIRE
THE LAST MISTRESS
REPRISE
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
HAPPY GO LUCKY
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW YOUR FATHER?
MONGOL
BOY A
BURN AFTER READING
UP THE YANGTZE
SILENT LIGHT
IN BRUGES
THE DUCHESS
....END OF THE WORLD (Herzog)
THE DARK KNIGHT
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS
IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS
and several others......

Is this a bad year in film???

The American commercial films that do big box office are 90% terrible year in and year out. So what else is new?

K. Bowen said...

Yeah, Sam, but

1) you see absolutely everything.

2)I was cooler than most on Slumdog, Synecdoche, The Duchess, Happy-Go Lucky, The Visitor.

3) I'm just not that excited about the prestige stuff that's on the way.

4) I find myself wanting to add things like 4 Months and Entre Les Murs to fill out my top ten. When I'm trying to think of things to add, it's been a not so great year, from my perspective.