We saw the first Madagascar film on DVD with the children at someone’s house a year or so ago. It’s a good film with a decent plot and we all enjoyed it. For months afterwards Basil would dance around singing “I like to move it, move it.”
When the children learnt that Madagascar 2 was coming out, they naturally nagged us to death to go and see it. So we saw it yesterday. There are lots of things wrong with this film and there’s not much that can be said in its defence.
The film begins with a hurried flashback to explain how Alex the Lion came to wind up in New York City, which also allows the introduction of the Evil Character who is a rival to Alex’s father as ruler of Lions. Care is taken to have a Evil Poacher shoot a chunk out of the ear of Zuba, his father, so that later on in the film we’ll be able to identify him. See also how father and son share a the distinctive birthmark on forepaw in the shape of Africa. Don’t forget, it’s important later on.
Fast-forward to the present where the heroes of the first movie board a DC-3 loaded in a gigantic slingshot built by the penguins to fly back to the USA. And this is the beginning of the problem; the most interesting part of the film revolves around how the penguins salvage the airplane (that crashes in Africa) and construct a helicopter out of the wreckage. But if the boss of the penguins is so smart, what’s with the endless unfunny gags about how he’s smitten by a rafia doll?
The storyline is pretty weak, consisting mostly of a series of sketches that fortuitiously manage to be tangentially related to each other. On the positive side, at least there are no jokes about farting. On the other hand there are plenty of jokes about being kicked in the testicles. Ha ha, aren’t those Americans funny?
There are also lots of scenes that to allow people to prove their intellectual mettle by spotting the clichés and meta-clichés. Laugh at the granny standing up by the campfire, with her shadow projected on to a rock behind her, casting a shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Giggle at the scene where the Penguin lords cave into the demands of the proletariat Monkeys negotiating for maternity leave.
See the poor Alex, shunned by his father. How will he ever prove his worth and (re)gain his father’s esteem? I hover between not caring, and knowing that in the end, Alex will prevail, and his father will adopt his crazy new-fangled ideas and everything will be groovy.
As the credits scrolled past (my, what a lot of animators you have!) at the end of the film, a kindly usher took pity on us and tipped us off to the fact that there was no secret out-take at the end of the credits so there was no need to hang around to the very end. Phew!