Merry Madagascar full movie review - As always, the "supporting characters" are better than the main ones but this is still an entertaining festive offering
I watched this short film at Christmas this year along with countless other films and programmes that feel like they have been made because they have to be for the festive season rather than being a case of someone having a great idea and everyone wanting to do it.
The plot is simple ? calling him the "Red Goblin", King Julian succeeds in shooting down Santa Claus, meaning that the New Yorkers have to leave the island on Santa's sledge and, with the help of the penguins, make sure that all the presents are delivered and that Christmas is saved. Meanwhile, on the island, an amnesiac Santa joins in the annual celebrations of Julianuary ? a festive period where everyone gives the King presents.
This TV special is quite amusing but it is not as funny or as clever as the recent Penguins spin-off show and part of the problem is the same problem I have with the films. This is that the main characters are actually not that good as characters. OK, they are almost a necessary evil in terms of the narrative but really time spent with them makes you think you're missing out on something better with the other side characters. The global sleigh ride is amusing but seems a bit cloying and obvious and the film is at its best where we are back on the island with King Julian. These sections have their own "message" but Julian is a great character and these bits are well written with his usual selfish self-importance and produces plenty of good laughs (such as the carol singing bit). The Penguins produce a few good laughs as well but their role doesn't give them much to do and I didn't think they worked as well as they have done elsewhere. Likewise Mort can be relied upon for easy laughs.
These good bits do well to carry the film while the main animals go around the world ? these bits are quite funny but just not as good as the rest. Ironic then that all the stars are back for these main animals while Cohen didn't do Julian. This is not a problem though because, as with the TV show, Jacobs does a very good job of making the character his own and delivering with timing. Overall Merry Madagascar is an enjoyable little festive offering but this is almost despite of itself. It has the feel of something that was a business decision rather than something everyone wanted to do and, while funny, the presence of the four main characters repeats the problem in the films ? the strongest material lies with the supporting characters, not the New Yorkers.