Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa"

No one much beyond the age of potty-training thought "Madagascar" any sort of great movie, but I liked it moderately better than the critical reception it earned. It was entertaining overall, occasionally very funny, just unconventional enough to be unique, featured at least two hilarious vocal performances (Sacha Baron Cohen and Andy Richter), and brandishing just a pinch of dark humor. There was no real logical argument necessitating a sequel, though, beyond the obvious monetary reasons (the first made $500 million worldwide), but that's fine as long as the follow-up remains funny, entertaining, and justifies its existence. However, despite a $63 million opening weekend and inexplicably decent reviews, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" feels like a forced, tired sequel in every respect (think "The Whole Ten Yards" and "Nutty Professor II") that jumps through "Saw"-like narrative hoops just to extend things unnecessarily and further cash in.

Sure, there are some laughs to be had -- the penguins and Baron Cohen's King Julian can be relied upon for consistent funny -- but does anyone really care about Alex's (Ben Stiller) daddy issues, Marty's (Chris Rock) identity crisis or Gloria's (Jada Pinkett-Smith) love interest? It's all a lazy rehash of the first film that doesn't work nearly as hard to make us give a shit; it's the sort of sequel that just delivers the characters we liked the first time around and expects that to be enough. To be fair, the movie's just lazy, not terrible, and any animated kids movie featuring an Iraq War joke deserves some props for ambition, but the whole thing can best be summed up by its final shot: our four leads dancing away from the camera for no reason. There's no celebration happening, there's not even any music playing, they're just dancing because the studio thinks that's what we like and what we want, even if it's completely unnecessary and makes no sense.


Anonymous Vanessa said...

Really? i have heard and read that the sequel is really good fun and actually better then the first?! But I guess it was from people who liked the first never mind.

6:07 AM  

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