Monday, January 16, 2006

Realism in animation

Upon seeing Madagascar for perhaps the 15th time, I found one thing that seems unrealistic.

The animals all communicating? The hippo picking up wayyyy too much stereotypical street slang? Penguins who can somehow overthrow the human crew of a trans-Atlantic cargo ship and learn global navigation? Andy Richter as a baby lemur (yes, Mrs. MMM, I looked it up)? No, those are all fine. Especially the penguins.

The basic problem -- I don't buy the concept of a lion as the star attraction of a zoo.

Ever seen a lion in a zoo? Ever seen a lion do anything in a zoo? No. If you've seen a picture of a lion, you've seen a lion in a zoo.

You go to a zoo to see the giraffe lope along. Maybe an elephant sighting. And little ferret-type things running around in tubes. Then you cram onto a platform like a rush-hour commuter just to catch a glimpse of the panda.

The lion? Yawn. Literally.

By the way, I strongly disagree with the "OK, but Shrek and Toy Story 2 are better" reviews. Shrek, I'm sorry, is overrated. The Toy Story films have never been able to hold my interest. Madagascar has inspired vocal performances throughout (the dynamic between lemur leaders Sacha Baron Cohen and Cedric the Entertainer makes repeat viewings survivable), a benign "fish out of water" plot and plenty of good absurdist humor. (Again, the penguins. Best cartoon characters since Road Runner and Wile E.) It's got its share of flaws -- the four "star" animals overdo the New York chatter, and I'd like to know where the monkeys were hiding during the penguin mutiny -- but I've seen it more than 10 times now, and it doesn't kill me. I'm sure I won't be able to say that about every DVD our little guy gets.


Anonymous said...

I think Schwimmer's performance is mediocre, but I agree with you about the bearability (is that a word) of multiple viewings. The penguins and monkeys are the best peripheral characters in an animated feature since... since that prehistoric squirrel-type critter in Ice Age.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that post was me.

--Mrs. MMM