CPE and Em (and El) Review the Madagascar Film Series

This is quickly becoming the summer of sequels I had not known were on the way and had no idea anyone demanded.  First we had Men In Back III and coming June 8, Madagascar 3.  The only thing that could be more surprising is if they come up with another Spider-Man mov-wait…what?   Oh, we’ll have a Spider-Man series review soon.  For now, let’s go back over the first 2 Madagascar films.  The first one is the first movie Em ever saw in a theater, and the second one is the first one she and her sister saw together in the theaters, so it will be pretty special to review both for their merits and at times, their flaws.  As soon as we see the 3rd film, we will add it to the collection.

Madagascar – 2005

Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Starring (v0ices of) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio, Christopher Knights
Screenplay by Mark Burton, Billy Frolick, Darnell and McGrath

CPE’s Review:  Every viewing of this movie is a treat.  There are so many characters given quirks that are consistently drawn upon.  As a foursome, Stiller, Rock, Pinkett Smith and Schwimmer are solid, but the supporting cast is among the best supplied for an animated feature.  Baron Cohen’s King Julian is a clear standout, but the Penguins (Private, Kowalski, Rico and Skipper) supply the most consistent laughs throughout.  The best sequence, however, is the one that shows the characters all the dangers inherent in the wild…that poor duck.The story isn’t anything all that astounding, but well executed dialogue, the animation and the full characters bring consistent joy.

(****1/2 out of *****)

Em’s Review:  My favorite character is Marty the Zebra .  I like him because he put a duck in the pond then SMACK! a crocodile grabbed the little duck.  I did not like  when the penguins didn’t tell Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman that the boat had no fuel.  That was mean.

(***** out of *****)

El’s Review: I liked King Julian when he did the “I Like to Move It, Move It” song.

(***** out of *****)

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa  – 2008

Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Starring (v0ices of) Ben Stiller, Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio, Christopher Knights, Sherri Shepherd, Alec Baldwin, Elisa Gabrielli, Chris Miller, Willow Smith
Screenplay by Etan Cohen, Darnell and McGrath

CPE’s Review: An inventive approach for a sequel that gives everyone something to do.  An improvement over the first film, though, is that the main characters is given a better subplot this time.  Even so, the Penguins and the Monkeys give much heft to the story with their dealings as the project superintendents and workers.  King Julian offers more of the same this time, and even if it feels repetitive, it’s still crisper than most animated fare.  Alec Baldwin’s sleazy Makunga is an awesome addition.  His shenanigans are delicious and effective.  The only real weak spot in the story is the politically motivated subplots about McGrath’s Skipper the Penguin marrying an inanimate object.  Trying  to “educate” kids instead of entertain them.  Confusing to kids, dumb to adults.

(**** out of *****)

Em’s Review:  My favorite character is Melman,  because he showed  love to Gloria.  My favorite part was when Moto Moto did his fancy walk, knocking over the animals.  The part I did not like was when Marty called Alex stupid.  That wasn’t nice.

(**** out of *****)

El’s Review:  I like the little Lemur (Mort) when he cries.

(*****)

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted – 2012

Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Starring (v0ices of) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio, Christopher Knights, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Chastain, Martin Short, Paz Vega,
Screenplay by Noah Baumbach

CPE’s Review: Well, they have managed to make the series seem worthwhile and vital even with a third outing.  An ever-expanding cast of characters who are as interesting (with the exception of Short’s overdone sea lion, Stefano) as the other cast members is matched with the continually fascinating growth of the main characters.  The most striking of these is the romance brewed up between King Julian (Baron Cohen) and a silent, cycle riding Sonia the Bear.  The moments between the two are as touching as anything one would see in the first 10 minutes of the Pixar classic, Up.  Alex the Lion finds love too, in the form of Gia the Jaguar (the always delightful Chastain) and the development of Gloria and Melman is sweet.  The important thing is, all of these romances use methods that are not mired in cliche.  It makes them all seem much more poignant and truly individual.

The Penguins once more steal the show with their genius for getting into and out of every situation.  Gone (thankfully) is the the horrible subplot involving Skipper marrying a toy.  The freedom from that contrivance allows them to do what they do best, which is to work with the monkeys, Mason and Phil.  Together, they have won enough money to, as the story dictates, buy a circus.   What they do with the circus is entertaining, and, thanks to inventive and appropriate use of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” inspiring.

As things are, they could keep making sequels to this series for years to come.  It’s one of the few ideas in Hollywood that improve with each installment.

(***** out of *****)

Em’s Review: I really liked the sequence where Marty went flying out of the cannon and after he had a lot of fun in the air, he smacked into the side of the mountain.  Not with the seal, though.  I only liked it with Marty.  I liked King Julian with the bear, when she ate him and only his tail was sticking out.  Also when Burt, the Lemur was making the noise to make it scarier, and Julian told him to be quiet.  Katy Perry’s “Firework” was the best.

(***** out of *****)

El’s Review: I liked the polka-dot, polka-dot, polka-dot afro!  (***** out of *****) or as she put it, 100 out of 100.

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