Movie Review: Madagascar 2
By Daron Aldridge
November 12, 2008
Each of Alex's friends is also at first excited about being around others of their species and then encounter their own issues with their new surroundings, whether it's a lack of individuality, the notion of impending death or undeclared love. Fortunately for kids, these aren't overtly obvious or too pivotal to the action to distract their attention from the silliness. Speaking of silliness, Lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) is on the peripheral for much of the movie. Basically, he shows up, does something wacky and obliviously farfetched, and then fades out until his next cue.
Since this is a kids' movie, the ending won't surprise anyone but the journey is pure popcorn fun. The expanded role of the penguins as the ringleaders of the whole escape operation is welcomed with their mission to gather parts and organize their primate laborers as standouts.
The biggest misstep in the film is the forced subplot of the stranded New Yorkers on safari that creates a Lord of the Flies-like society, with the unwelcome return of the grandmother that beat up Alex in Grand Central Station previously. She is given significant screen time, possibly more than Makunga. While this tangent does serve a purpose for Alex, it is just a tired retread of "Look, we can make the elderly do uncharacteristic things. Isn't that funny?" a la the rapping granny from The Wedding Singer.
It seems that the filmmakers knew they weren't going to be making a masterpiece that would fit into Pixar's filmography and had no intention of attempting to do so. You can't have steak for every meal. Sometimes a Hebrew National hot dog smothered in condiments is just what you want. WALL-E, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story are marbled, perfectly grilled steaks (sorry, vegetarians) and both Madagascar films are tasty, ballpark food. You really enjoy it but it wouldn't be on your last supper menu.
Ultimately, kids will love it. They are not going to question a crate floating from Africa to New York, notice the sudden appearance of a distinctive birthmark on Alex or the fact that all these wild animals live in relative peace, despite the fact that most of them would be the lion's dinner. The crowded theater with two-thirds being ten-years-old or younger laughed in all the expected places and that laughter was pretty hearty. So, DreamWorks gave them what they wanted and I found myself entertained but it might have been because my five-year-old with his infectious laugh thoroughly enjoyed it.