Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Madagascar 2: Back To The Box Office

Of course, the real problem with these Dreamworks movies is I sit there going "Who is that? Is that...?"

It's Alec Baldwin this time. He's the evil lion whose constant haranguing of the king (the late Bernie Mac) is ultimately what results in Ben Stiller's Alex the Lion Cub being kidnapped and ultimately ending up in Central Park Zoo.

This movie takes up where the last left off, basically, with the four characters (lion, zebra, giraffe and hippopotamous played by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith) trying to get back to New York. The Penguins get them to Africa where they find a preserve and many of their own kind, and Alex The Lion is reuinted with his parents.

Before you know it, evil Alec Baldwin is there taking advantage of Alex's ignorance of lion ritual and gets Alex banned from the reserve. Marty finds a bunch of other zebras exactly like him (all voiced by Chris Rock, amusingly enough), Gloria finds hippo love and Melman discovers that his fellow giraffes are also all hypochondriacs.

The plot ends up being more derivative than original, reminding particularly of The Lion King, though never played at that level of seriousness, obviously. Also, no musical numbers. But the jokes are pretty steady and not all bad. Because it's Dreamworks and Katzenberg, there are a few more jokes aimed at the parents than I'd like, including some of that referential stuff that ages poorly.

But The Flower liked it and The Boy didn't hate it, and I had a few laughs, so that's not bad.


  1. I don't like cartoons that use famous voices. It takes you out of the "fantasy" world, precisely for the reason you said: instead of enjoying the story or the character, you sit there going "Who is that?? I know that voice! Is it...? ...who IS THAT?!" Or you evaluate how well they're doing throughout the movie.

  2. There's some truth to that--and Troop will like that we can blame Robin Williams for the trend, since prior to Aladdin doing voices wasn't something A-List actors often did.

    But for us voice-actor fans, we do that anyway. Everytime a bird screeches in a cartoon, we say, "Thank you, Frank Welker." Or a random stranger pops up on the street in Springfield, "Thank you, Hank Azaria."

    Vincent D'Onofrio plays Orson Welles in Tim Burton's Ed Wood--but his voice is done by Maurice LeMarche, which can be doubly confusing....

    But, yeah, big celebs are worse because either they sound generic (like Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh in The Road To El Dorado) or their animated character plays to their persona (like Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy) which usually takes you out of the fantasy, or worse it doesn't play to their persona and just plain doesn't fit.

    Plus, all these really great voice actors lose out on work. That they'd do better. (Do people actually say, "Hey, that's Ben Stiller as the lion, I gotta go see that!"?)


Grab an umbrella. Unleash hell. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. If swelling continues past four hours, consult a physician.