Monday, January 05, 2009

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Escaping the string of high-temperature days out here in western Sydney this week, some friends and I went off to see the animated film, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa", sequel to the popular and successful "Madagascar".

Predictably, it was a clever mix of slapstick humour for the ankle-biters in the audience, and some clever parodies and homages to famous films and TV shows for the adults. Again we follow the misadventures of a lion, zebra, hippo and giraffe (and some manic penguins and a few monkeys). Last time they escaped Central Park Zoo and ended up, not in Africa but Madagascar. This time they try again for Africa.

Certain sequences were tips of the hat to films such as "West Side Story", "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Born Free", and classic TV's "The Twilight Zone" (William Shatner's oft-parodied "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episode).

Voice actors Chris Rock (Marty the zebra) and Ben Stiller (Alex the lion) did a very funny promotional interview for this film on "Rove", a few months ago, and they mentioned how weird it was when their voices get dubbed into foreign languages, and yet they're still the headline stars who travel the world to discuss the film. Essentially they are promoting their names on the film poster! (Mind you, the fictional characters have inherited lots of quirky traits of all the cast. Melman the Giraffe is a close cousin to Ross of "Friends", thanks to the contributions of David Schwimmer.)

Some will say it wasn't as funny or fresh as the original, but for me it certainly pushed all the right buttons. Well worth a look. Escape... 2 the cinema.

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