MADAGASCAR 2 – ESCAPE 2 AFRICA (2008)
Featuring the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Sherri Shepherd, Elisa Gabrielli and Will.i.am.
Screenplay by Etan Cohen, Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath.
Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath.
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. 89 minutes. Rated PG.
I never saw the original Madagascar movie. All I really knew about it was that it had the weird-looking animated animals who shook their asses to that awful “I Like to Move It, Move It” song.
Well, the sequel is here, and they are still booty-moving to that song and I still hate it.
It doesn’t ruin the film. Madagascar 2 – Escape 2 Africa has some funny moments – though in the end it’s not really a very good film. Little kids will probably love it, though I can’t imagine anyone watching Madagascar 2 for sheer enjoyment with any regularity after they hit puberty.
Madagascar 2 has a neurotic group of a lion, zebra, giraffe and rhino who are in the title country but want to get back to their cushy homes at the New York zoo. With the help of some wacky penguins and a possibly insane lemur, they try to fly a plane home, but end up crash landing in Africa.
By odd coincidence, they happen to come down where the lion (Ben Stiller) was born and he is able to reunite with his parents. Ironically, the ultra-white bread Stiller’s parents talk like they are straight out of a blaxploitation film – is that supposed to be the Africa influence? His dad is the alpha male of the pride, and he wants his son to take his place, but he doesn’t realize that he has been domesticated in the zoo and now would rather dance than fight.
The bad guy… umm, lion… is played by the late Bernie Mac, who appeared to be doing a spot-on imitation of Gene Hackman for some reason. I swear, through the whole film I was sure Hackman was doing the voice – but kudos for Mac, he really had the intonations down. I’m not sure why, but it sure worked.
There is also a slightly ridiculous but good-hearted romance between the giraffe (Schwimmer) and the rhino (Pinkett Smith).
Some of it is a little threadbare and not thought out enough. For example, there are some odd moments where Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) comes to realize that pretty much all zebras sound, talk and act exactly alike. I suppose they are trying to say something about the herd mentality, but after being mildly amusing for a couple of minutes, the gag goes on way too long and has no real payoff.
Also, what is the real point of making the bad-guy an elderly woman? This leads to several uncomfortable scenes of a little old lady being punched, hit by cars, thrown from heights and generally worked over. The fact that she is supposed to be a mean old spitfire doesn’t change the fact that they are beating up on a lady who needs a cane.
Not to mention the fact that all these animals walk on two legs is distracting and annoying – the animation is not good enough to overcome this obvious error.
However, even though it is very imperfect, if you take it on its own light terms, in general Madagascar 2 is good natured and harmless fun.
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 6, 2009.