by Cub Reporter Rebecca Pauley
The hit 2005 family comedy, “Madagascar”, made fans “roar” with laughter and earned more than $500, 000,000 in the worldwide box office. This animated movie from Pixar Animation and DreamWorks is about a zebra, a lion, a hippo, a giraffe, and a bunch of funny penguins living in the Central Park Zoo who get a taste of what it’s like to live in the wild.
With the brilliant cast including Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria the Hippo, Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion, Chris Rock as Marty the Zebra, and more, “Madagascar” brings out many emotions, and many laughs.
From the producers who brought you this movie, and more of your favorite animations including “Shrek”, “Bee Movie”, “Ratatouille”, and “Finding Nemo” comes exceedingly anticipated sequel, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."
Our adored animal friends are back in a sequel that is said to be even better than the first. Just to give you a hint of the fun, the lovable animals fix an old crashed plane and fly it to the vast plains of Africa, and discover species of their own kind.
I and other journalists got the chance to interview Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Chris Rock and see their views on the movie.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Jada Pinkett Smith always loved animation. In fact, one of her favorite animated movies was “Snow White”. Although Jada first majored in dance and choreography, she chose to pursue a career in acting. She married the actor Will Smith in 1997, and they now have two young children.
Now she is back as a down-to-earth hippo in the “Madagascar” sequel. When asked about the particular values that she sees in this film that reflect her core beliefs, she said, “Well one of my core beliefs is that this particular film is the commitment to the process of relationships… Relationships go through good times and bad times…And in order to have genuine, really authentic relationships; a lot is born in relationships from going through things together and coming out on the other side.”
She also spoke about what she found was the biggest challenge in completing this film.
"There's no set. You really have to use your imagination to conjure emotion. There's a scene where a plane is crashing and I'm sitting in a studio with a microphone so I really have to imagine what it would be like to be in a plane that's going down. So, it’s definitely challenging in that way, but I found it to be quite a wonderful exercise in using my imagination," she explained.
Chris Rock, the actor/comedian, plays the role of Marty the Zebra in this new animated film. Chris says that this time around Marty is getting more in touch with his “inner zebra”, and , of course, there is a lot of singing. He says that he really likes Dreamworks Animation because they “add a level of quality that other people just don’t have so you know you’re going to be in for something good.”
Inspired by “Charlie Brown” animation as a child (which he loved), Chris adds that “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” provides kids with a lesson in friendship, “…your friends are the people you connect with the most, and sometimes the people you connect with the most might not look like you or sound like you or be in the same place with you, but they’ll end up being your best friends.”
I had to ask Chris Rock if he added his own lines and special effects to his role to add to his character.
"I added a ton of my own lines. Half of thefm were taken out because they were a little too risqué. But the ones left that were good enough stayed," he joked.
Alex the Lion, the “big shot” at the Central Park Zoo, is played by Ben Stiller. You could see him in “Night at the Museum”, and “Along Came Polly”. This actor is now married with children. Mr. Stiller expresses that he is relatable to Alex because they are both “city guys”. As a kid, he was very rambunctious.
Ben explains that, “I was sort of shy part of the time and then if I was in a situation with friends, then I’d be pretty rambunctious and like to get a little crazy…” Mr. Stiller still finds it a little strange hearing himself through another character. But he also really liked seeing the first “Madagascar” after having worked for a few years on it.
Ben described how he coordinated his voice acting to the action in the movie to me. “When you are recording these movies what you do is just record your voice and then the animators go and they do the actions after you recorded your voice so you don't have to worry about matching fit to any action.
That's the fun thing because you can sort of do whatever you want to do and then months later you see how it matches up with what they've come up with in the animation. So, It's really not like you have to worry about it. Then when you start to get to the end of the process and you see all the animation.
Sometimes you go back and you want to change things and then you have to do your voice to the picture that's already there which is a little bit harder" he explained.
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” comes to theaters and Imax on November 7, 2008. Dreamworks animation is also working on a Madagascar 3. It is amazing to see what these producers can dream up. We will have to just wait and see what new adventure unfolds for our favorite animals.