The Invincibubble

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is more acid trip than movie. I expect nautical nonsense from my favorite sea sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, but this is just ridiculous. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie couldn’t have come at a better time. Although late creator Stephen Hillenburg meant SpongeBob to end after 3 amazing seasons and a movie, Nickelodeon couldn’t let go of their little SquarePants moneymaker. So series destroyer Paul Tibbitt ran the show into the ground from season 4-9 with so many truly awful episodes that relied on gross imagery, mean spirited humor, and perpetually moronic characters. I held on as long as I could, but I eventually had to give up on my childhood icon. So I wasn’t exactly keen on a sequel 11 years after its downfall. Although nothing can top what came before, I’ll begrudgingly call Sponge Out of Water a return to form. It’s just complete false advertisement since the live-action/computer animated segments are only in about 25 minutes of the movie.

It’s a shame traditional animation is so overshadowed, because everything in Bikini Bottom looks really good. Apart from the main cast, Antonio Banderas is the only major celebrity. He plays the live-action pirate Burger Beard alongside a flock of seagulls voiced by veteran cartoon voice actors. Burger Beard’s villainous scheme is using a magical book to gain the addictive Krabby Patty secret formula in order to make his own patties on the surface. The lack of patties turns everyone to a post-apocalyptic rage against SpongeBob when he chooses to believe Plankton isn’t behind the theft. Despite their militaristic feud, SpongeBob & Plankton learn about teamwork by traveling in a time machine to get the formula back. The trippy feel comes from the multitude of animation styles they end up using. Including SpongeBob’s bizarre sugary brain fantasy and their unusual meeting with a space dolphin.

SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and even Sandy only reach the surface when they smell Krabby Patties. The dolphin gives them the ability to breath above water and that’s when they become computer animated. Their antics are still just as zany and strangely risque. Sponge Out of Water becomes a superhero movie at the very end when SpongeBob gives them superpowers by writing in the magical book’s pages. Unlike the episode “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V,” everyone’s identity is a lot closer to their personality. SpongeBob is the bubble blowing The Invincibubble, Patrick is the ice cream summoning Mr. Superawesomeness, Squidward is the clarinet playing Sour Note, Mr. Krabs is the robotic Sir Pinch-a-Lot, Sandy is the realistic squirrel The Rodent, and even Plankton becomes the heroic Plank-Ton. It’s a creative final fight that brings everyone together under the Krusty Krab. A fine ending ruined by an out of nowhere epic rap battle of history. Sponge Out of Water is weird, but it works.

SpongeBob Movie Sponge Out of Water

SpongeBob and friends as superheroes

Preceded by: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie & Followed by: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

I’m a Goofy Goober!

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is bigger, squarier, and spongier! “Are you ready kids?” I know I was when I discovered a big screen movie was being made for my all time favorite animated Nickelodeon TV show. SpongeBob SquarePants is undoubtedly the cartoon of my generation. I was absolutely obsessed with the first 3 seasons when I was a kid. My peers continue to quote SpongeBob from memory to this day. Since Nickelodeon was making a theatrical film for all their best properties in the early 2000’s, I knew SpongeBob had to be next in line. The late great creator Stephen Hillenburg nearly declined the offer, but he instead intended it to be the massive conclusion to the series (sadly that wasn’t the case). I’ll never forget my mom taking my brother and I to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Animation was crisp, but familiar and the entire cast was just as great as ever. With plenty of nautical nonsense to make me laugh out loud. The movie is warranted since SpongeBob finally has the chance to become manager at the newly built Krusty Krab 2. Unfortunately, Mr. Krabs gives the job to Squidward since everyone thinks of SpongeBob as a kid.

The stakes are especially raised when a far more evil Plankton, with the help of his computer wife Karen, discover Plan Z to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. When Mr. Krabs is blamed for the theft of King Neptune’s crown, SpongeBob & Patrick have only 6 days to leave Bikini Bottom for the forbidden Shell City. The movie is everything I love about SpongeBob. From the bubbles to the jellyfish, but there are several new elements introduced. SpongeBob & Patrick are suddenly obsessed with the childish Goofy Goober and eating large amounts of ice cream in hilariously drunk fashion. Just like the show, nearly every moment and sneaky adult joke is meme worthy. The celebrity voice cast is especially impressive with the likes of Jeffrey Tambor as a bald King Neptune (different than the one seen in “Neptune’s Spatula”), Scarlett Johansson as the kindly mermaid Princess Mindy, and Alec Baldwin as the ruthless assassin Dennis. Characters like Gary the Snail, Sandy, Mrs. Puff, and Pearl have very limited screen time. Squidward at least discovers Plankton’s scheme before being mind controlled by a Chum Bucket helmet.

It’s really SpongeBob & Patrick’s time to shine as they heroically ride the Patty Wagon, escape a band of bloodthirsty bikers, and flee a deadly frogfish. Mindy inspires them with seaweed mustaches and they escape a monster infested trench as well. Dennis nearly steps on them, but a bigger boot captures them instead. Turns out Shell City is just a gift shop and the cyclops is really a deep sea diver from the live-action surface. Live-action is also used at the beginning with pirates singing the theme song and attending the movie premiere. The live-action/animated sequence is one of the saddest non-Disney scenes I’ve ever seen. I cry every single time SpongeBob & Patrick nearly die under a hot lamb. Their escape makes up for it with a brilliant cameo from David Hasselhoff coming to the rescue. Then the climax tops that with an infectious hard rock performance from SpongeBob singing “Goofy Goober Rock.” It’s technically not a musical, but any random song is plenty of underwater fun. The ending is the most satisfying way to end SpongeBob as he’s finally named manager to the tune of “Ocean Man.” The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is the sweetest victory I could ask for.

SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

SpongeBob & Patrick ride the Patty Wagon

Followed by: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Four Score and Seven Years Ago…

Lincoln brought the greatest President who ever lived back to life. Director Steven Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis managed to turn such an iconic figure into a fully believable human being. Even in a year with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Lincoln managed to maintain the integrity of such an important President. Although you might expect the film to cover the President’s entire life from his youth in a log cabin to his Gettysburg Address to his assassination at Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln only covers about 4 months. With the sole focus being his determined fight to abolish slavery. The Civil War is only briefly seen at the beginning and the famous address is only recited by Union soldiers.

The Best Picture nominated Lincoln is actually a talk heavy picture that keeps you a lot more invested than you might expect. A true talent that Spielberg has always possessed. Of course a large scale production and presidential score from John Williams helps too. Although Liam Neeson was originally cast in the titular role, only Daniel Day-Lewis could be so dedicated to portraying the tall hat wearing 16th President of the United States. An impressive feat that earned Day-Lewis an unprecedented third Academy Award for Best Actor. Turns out “Honest Abe” can have a sense of humor and a southern accent that isn’t overly deep. The battle for the Thirteenth Amendment is a war of words between his cabinet that shows just how passionate Lincoln was to free the slaves of Confederate states.

As engrossing as Lincoln himself is, the entire cast is packed with equally dedicated A-list actors. We also follow Lincoln’s relationship with his sons and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Sally Field explores her mental illness and challenging marriage to her powerful husband. Tommy Lee Jones is just as enthralling as fierce Republican congressional abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. The fight for Republicans to gain more Democratic votes has an obvious historical outcome, but it’s no less satisfying to witness African Americans receive their freedom. Lincoln only implies the President’s assassination. Instead the end is a hopeful speech by Abraham Lincoln during his re-election. Lincoln is for all the people who shall not perish from this Earth.

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln argues with his cabinet

I Drink Your Milkshake!

There Will Be Blood struck oil in a big way. Hailed as one of the best films of the 21st Century, There Will Be Blood follows events from the 19th-20th Century oil boom. The story was a very loose adaptation of Oil! by Upton Sinclair. I have no interest in oil production, but I knew I needed to see the movie for Daniel Day-Lewis’ critically acclaimed performance. It was enough to earn Day-Lewis his second Academy Award for Best Actor. There Will Be Blood follows a prospector turned oil tycoon named Daniel Plainview.

Day-Lewis disappears in the role of a greedy oil rich man in search of more land. It’s his slow descent into madness that really lives up to the title. Plainview seems to care for his only son H. W., but it’s not long before he abandons his child and admits it was all a ploy to boost his image. Plainview is almost the embodiment of Mark 8:36. Since his struggle with faith repeatedly clashes with business partner Eli Sunday. Paul Dano deserved just as much appreciation for his dual performance as an exaggerated young preacher who has almost schoolyard confrontations with Plainview.

The most memorable part is the ending where a Plainview who’s officially descended into madness, taunts Eli with the out of nowhere line “I drink your milkshake!” The easiest way to understand how oil drilling works. I haven’t seen many Paul Thomas Anderson movies, but I wouldn’t argue that this is his finest work. Even with an extended runtime, the Best Picture nominated There Will Be Blood keeps you engaged with powerful scenery and an old fashioned score with sinister undertones. “I’m finished.”

There Will Be Blood

Daniel taunts Eli

Painter’s Feet

My Left Foot put its best foot forward. Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest actors of all time, but I really hadn’t seen much from his limited filmography. My mother suggested My Left Foot as it was the first film where Day-Lewis won an Academy Award for Best Actor. My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown is the true story of an Irishman with cerebral palsy who beat the odds to become a painter and author of his own autobiography.

Christy is seen as a burden by his proud working class father, but his strong and patient mother has always believed in him. It’s not until Christy writes “Mother” with his left foot that his father starts to come around. We see all of Christy’s life from being wheeled around in a cart to learning to improve his speech with a cerebral palsy coach. It’s a powerful journey with many highs and lows, but Christy is able to find love and appreciation by the end. Daniel Day-Lewis is a pure wonder to behold as he contorts his body throughout the film. As a method actor, his dedication shows in every scene.

Day-Lewis was more than deserving of the Best Actor Oscar, but child actor Hugh O’Conor should’ve won as well. O’Conor is scary good at matching his older co-stars facial features and body movements. Brenda Fricker won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as well. Since a loved one experiencing someone else’s struggle can be just as effective. Some would argue My Left Foot should’ve won Best Picture over Driving Miss Daisy, but I think they’re equally strong contenders. My Left Foot is an inspiring lesson in never giving up on the physically disabled.

My Left Foot

Christy’s mother pushes her son

Cute and Cuddly

Penguins of Madagascar is the cute & cuddly spin-off of DreamWorks Animation’s premiere penguin posse. Since Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted was the natural conclusion to Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria’s adventure, it only made sense to focus on the biggest scene stealers. I just wasn’t crazy about the idea for a theatrical computer animated movie, because I thought it was a direct continuation of the Nickelodeon series of the same name. I watched The Penguins of Madagascar for a while, but I lost interest. The movie is completely separate and follows the continuity of the movies. It begins with the penguin’s in Antarctica where film crews are always filming them. Penguins of Madagascar may have come out long after the 2000’s penguin craze, but jokes like that are still pretty funny. Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico are chicks who discover the joys of slapping and rescue an egg containing the adorable Private.

Years later we pick up with the penguins in the circus immediately after Europe’s Most Wanted. We only see the gang in silhouettes accompanied by the “Afro Circus/I Like to Move It” mashup. They leave to celebrate Private’s birthday at Fort Knox where they obtain a bag of Cheesy Dibbles. An entire movie dedicated to the penguins gives them much more depth than they ever had before. Skipper is still the determined leader and Kowalski is the much more matter of fact brains. Rico retains some of his Nickelodeon attributes with more of a crazy streak. Private is sort of the main character since he wants to be viewed as a meaningful and valued member of the team. Instead of just the cute one with nothing to offer. Penguins of Madagascar is very much a kids movie with a silly villain at the center. Dr. Octavius Brine is a mad scientist who’s secretly a revenge hungry octopus named Dave. Skipper constantly messes up his name, but the funniest running gag are Dave’s celebrity named octopus minions.

Dave was once a zoo octopus constantly shunned thanks to adorable penguins. His diabolical plan is to use a serum to turn every penguin into an ugly monster. Since the penguins have always been voiced by crew members, celebrities like John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch had to pick up the slack. Malkovich voices Dave and Cumberbatch voices the leader of an elite squad of technologically advanced animals. The North Wind constantly overshadow the penguins on their mission. The team consists of Classified the Eurasian wolf, Short Fuse the harp seal, Eva the snowy owl, and Corporal the polar bear. Skipper deliberately competes with the team and Kowalski has a crush on Eva. The spy action is just as fun as ever and the climax is the craziest thing I’ve seen in a Madagascar film. In the end, there’s a kid friendly lesson about what’s inside that counts. Mort and King Julien even get a cameo at the end. Julien being voiced by his Nickelodeon voice actor is probably the closest connection to the show. Penguins of Madagascar is simply an enjoyable adventure for the action-packed penguins.

28. Penguins of Madagascar

Skipper, Private, Kowalski, and Rico make a plan

Spin-Off of: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Afro Circus

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted took the action to the circus. I may have been outgrowing the childish antics of the franchise, but I loved the New York animals too much not to see where their journey lead them. Can’t say I was expecting them to end up in Europe with a strong circus theme. It’s the reason why I wasn’t even sure if I liked the threequel when I first saw it. Until I realized the first two Madagascar movies were just as over-the-top. Europe’s Most Wanted fully embraces its cartooniness and became an unexpected hit with critics. Putting the Madagascar trilogy in a unique position of being a DreamWorks Animation series that gets better with each passing movie. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Andy Richter all return for what turned out to be the last Madagascar. The titular island is long gone by now and the gang couldn’t stay away from New York forever. Even though Escape 2 Africa really made it seem like Africa was their perfect home. Instead Alex is once again homesick for New York. It feels like a minor retcon considering his parents are nowhere to be seen.

When the penguins fail to return, Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, King Julian, Maurice, and Mort all follow them to Monte Carlo. The only conflict between Alex & Marty is their role as leader, but Melman & Gloria are still a loving odd couple. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private are living a wealthy lifestyle with the chimps posing as a human. Madagascar and Africa were one thing, but Europe is clearly no place for wild animals. The franchise’s strongest villain is the psychoic animal hunting Captain DuBois voiced by a French Frances McDormand. DuBois and her band of animal control agents ruthlessly chase down the animals in a sequence that throws out all laws of physics. Their only hope is hiding out with a European circus. I’ve never been to the circus myself, but I must admit it brings a delightful flavor to the movie. The new characters include Bryan Cranston as the Russian tiger Vitaly, Jessica Chastain as the Italian jaguar Gia, and Martin Short as the Italian sea lion Stefano. The penguins maintain their cover by buying off the clowns and ringmaster, leaving animals as the sole act of the circus. The only problem is the circus turning out to be terrible.

Vitaly lost his passion for performing in an impossible ring jumping act and the rest of the circus sort of fell apart. So Alex helps them all to believe in themselves again. Gia becomes a love interest who performs in a trapeze act with Alex, Stefano lives his dream to shoot out of a cannon, and Julien humorously falls in love with a bear on a tricycle. The successful circus performance is a dazzling computer animated number full of bright colors set to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Their passion rubs off on the New York animals and they realize this is their home all along. I guess it’s a fine compromise between living with animals and their life as entertainers. It took 7 years, but Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman finally returning to the zoo isn’t exactly what they were expecting. The animals are locked in fences and DuBois attempts to kill Alex. The climax is the entire circus flying in to help with a colorful display of acrobatics. Followed by the gang singing a catchy mashup of “Afro Circus” blended with “I Like to Move It.” Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted wasn’t the direction I was expecting, but it’s too much of a spectacle to ignore.

22. Madagascar 3 Europe's Most Wanted

Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria join the circus

Preceded by: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Meet the Lions

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a pun that speaks for itself. The success of Madagascar made it the first non-Shrek DreamWorks Animation sequel. Although I’ll always have a soft spot for the first movie, Escape 2 Africa is a major improvement that was more warmly received. I wasn’t sure how they’d make a sequel away from the titular Madagascar, but setting things in Africa was a stroke of genius that allowed each character to have more depth. While retaining the cartoony antics and party feel that we’ve seen before. Escape 2 Africa begins with Alex the lion’s backstory. Turns out he was the son of the lion king who ended up seperated thanks to poachers. The adorable little cub washed up in New York and was quickly placed in the Central Park Zoo along with his equally adorable future friends Marty, Melman, and Gloria. The latter is of course voiced by Willow Smith. A news story recaps the events of Madagascar and the gang is reintroduced while singing “I Like to Move It.” Since the boat was out of gas, they take a makeshift slingshot plane instead. Which is operated by the scene stealing penguins. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private became so popular that they got their own spin-off Nickelodeon series The Penguins of Madagascar.

Sacha Baron Cohen was also too memorable as King Julien, so he leaves Madagascar just to stay in the adventure. Cedric the Entertainer’s Maurice is moreso on the same page with Julien, but Andy Richter’s Mort is hilariously abandoned. After a comedically over-the-top plane crash, the New york zoo animals find themselves in their ancestral home where they each have their own separate experience. The computer animation used for Africa is majestic, but now several more animals like elephants, ostriches, and flamingos had to be stylized the same way as the characters we’ve already met. Much like The Lion King, Ben Stiller is white, but his King & Queen parents are both black. The late great Bernie Mac shines as Alex’s alpha lion father Zuba and Sherri Shepherd voices his caring mother. Alex’s main conflict is his dancing lion routine clashing with his father’s fighting traditions. Meanwhile, Marty deals with the fact that he’s virtually identical to a dazzle of zebra who are all voiced by Chris Rock. Since Melman & Gloria were both side characters in the first movie, they’re given a very unexpected subplot. Melman becomes the giraffe’s witch doctor and Gloria is looking for love among the hippos. Something she thinks she finds with the chunky chasing Moto Moto. A hippo voiced by will.i.am doing his self-described “deep chocolate” voice. There’s definitely a lot more butt shaking than the first movie.

The unexpected part is Melman being revealed to have always been in love with Gloria. David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith are already complete opposites, but it’s also the fact that they’re a giraffe and hippo. I thought it would just be a throw away joke, but they ended up being one of the sweeter animated interspecies couples. Meanwhile, the penguins use Mason & Phil’s opposable thumbs to help rebuild the plane with the help of other chimps. When the watering hole dries up, Julien gets the crazy idea to sacrifice a “dying” Melman to a volcano. It’s another so-so climax, but it’s still way better than The Wild. Escape 2 Africa actually has 2 villains. The animal antagonist is Alec Baldwin as the smug lion Makunga who usurped the throne. More unexpected is the fact that the old lady who beat up Alex in the first movie is promoted to human antagonist. Her inhuman strength is just as hilarious the second time around. Nana is part of a tour group that ends up blocking the water. In the end, the gang return the water and Skipper takes the plane on a Monte Carlo honeymoon with a hula girl. As Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman realize they’re home, the end credits close out the sequel with an African rendition of “I Like to Move It.” The scenery change made Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa a follow up worth singing about.

14. Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria in Africa

Preceded by: Madagascar & Followed by: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

I Like to Move it, Move it

Madagascar taught us all how to move it, move it. After the embarrassment of Shark Tale, DreamWorks Animation went back to ripping off Disney before their version came out. The difference being the fact that the 2005 Madagascar was vastly superior to the 2006 Disney film The Wild. Both computer animated movies are about a group of Central Park Zoo animals that end up in the wild where wacky hijinks ensue. Although it seems like Madagascar isn’t at fault for coming out first, some Disney executives claim it was corporate espionage. I wasn’t sure how to react to Madagascar since I’d never even heard of the African country.

I still knew I wanted to see it since DreamWorks movies are always a blast and I couldn’t say no to talking animals. Madagascar has been a favorite of mine ever since my dad took my brother and I to see it when I was 9 years old. The DVD was filled with plenty of fun extras and I even played the tie-in video game. I enjoyed Madagascar so much that I didn’t even notice how mixed the reviews were. Despite the reception and lack of Best Animated Feature nomination, Madagascar was a definite financial hit that launched the second longest running DreamWorks franchise after Shrek

7. Madagascar

Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria in Madagascar

Madagascar was actually pretty different compared to other DreamWorks movies. The inviting computer animation is much more cartoony with genuine slapstick for the kids. The adult innuendos are still present, but they were becoming less of a necessity. Although Madagascar was still filled with pop culture references and mostly infrequent gross out gags. They also continue to give older songs newfound success. “I Like to Move It” by Reel 2 Real practically exploded in popularity thanks to Madagascar. Regardless of how the story ended up, Madagascar is really a winner thanks to the chemistry of its unique cast of animals. The Central Park Zoo houses a variety of familiar animals.

The movie begins with Marty the zebra fantasizing about being in the wild. Chris Rock’s crackalackin brand of comedy means Marty is definitely black with white stripes. He’s just not as over-the-top as you’d expect Rock to be. One of the most unlikely DreamWorks friendships is between predator and prey. Alex is a lion who loves to entertain and hasn’t known anything other than his zoo lifestyle. Ben Stiller is usually pretty deadpan, but he’s also known for ending up in a lot of crazy situations. So Stiller is perfect for the high energy Alex. Although Madagascar is mostly about Alex & Marty’s friendship, they have two other animal friends by their side as well.

The very petite Jada Pinkett Smith voices the voluptuous hippo Gloria. She’s very caring and motherly to the group, but she has her sassy side as well. David Schwimmer was just the kind of lanky actor suited to voice a giraffe like Melman. His quirk is being a hypochondriac obsessed with staying healthy. Together the New York lion, zebra, hippo, and giraffe play off each other well. Although I wouldn’t call it an anthropomorphic animal movie, the animals do stand up in a very animated way. They’re definitely cartoons, not meant to look realistic. Animals look like they’re talking to humans, but all they hear are animal sounds. Humans are similarly stylized for the first time in a computer animated DreamWorks film. Other animals include the intelligent chimp Mason and his sign languaging companion Phil.

The biggest scene stealers are easily the penguins. Madagascar helped encourage the 2000’s penguin craze since it was released the same year as March of the Penguins. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private are all voiced by crew members. They resemble a slap happy military unit that’s extra hilarious due to the fact that they’re cute & cuddly penguins. Skipper is the determined leader, Kowalski is the right hand, Rico is the silent tool specialist, and Private takes most of the slaps. They were so popular that they starred in a funny Christmas short called The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper. If they seem a little out of place, it’s because they were originally meant for a movie about a penguin rock band called Rockumentary. Skipper inspires Marty to flee to the wild, but his friends prefer living in the zoo. When Marty goes off on his own, Alex, Gloria, and Melman find themselves in Grand Central Station with very casual New Yorkers. Apart from an old lady who very humorously beats up Alex.

When the animals are tranquilized in a trippy sequence, they’re all sent away on a ship to Africa. Except that a fight ends up sending all their crates to the titular island of Madagascar. The penguins take the ship to Antarctica, but they realize it sucks there. The stranded animals all react to the wild differently with Alex desperate to leave and Marty wanting to stay. Madagascar is either depicted as a beautiful landscape or a horrible deathtrap. The island is accurately populated by lemurs and the predatory fossa. The always outrageous character actor Sacha Baron Cohen steals the show with his rendition of “I Like to Move It.” King Julien is a hilariously egotistical lemur who wants to use the New York Giants as protection against the fossa. Andy Richter voicing the squeaky voiced Mort is also pretty funny. Royal advisor Maurice, voiced by Cedric the Entertainer, isn’t as convinced that Alex won’t slip into his predatory ways.

The movie’s biggest conflict is Alex’s constant lack of steak causing him to turn savage and attack his best friend. It’s pretty tragic, but the stakes are kinda low when most of it is played for laughs. I’ll admit the fossa climax isn’t as strong as the rest of Madagascar. Not that I didn’t get a kick out of the penguins helping Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman fight off the predators. They’re still very lovable characters with a believable friendship despite each of them being a different species. Alex gets his meat from sushi and the gang decides to leave Madagascar on a boat without gas. The light hearted slapstick is just as funny as when I was a kid, but jokes like “Sugar honey iced tea” are better appreciated when I’m an adult. In the end, the biggest treat is hearing the infectious party tune “I Like to Move It” one more time during the credits. Madagascar is just a fun piece of animal escapism.

8. Madagascar

King Julien and Maurice meet the New York giants

Followed by: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

The Future is History

12 Monkeys isn’t a children’s film about a dozen primates, it’s an R rated science fiction film about a bleak post-apocalyptic future. By the year 2035, humanity lives underground thanks to a virus released in the year 1996 by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. I knew absolutely nothing about 12 Monkeys going into it. Turns out it was Bruce Willis’ first film where he time travels from the future. It’s also the first time we see bald Bruce Willis, but it wasn’t permanent just yet.

James Cole is a convict who will receive a reduced sentence if he travels to the past and collects information about how to stop the virus. The only problem is that he’s accidentally sent to 1990 where he ends up in a mental institution. It’s there that Brad Pitt steals the show as the absolutely insane Jeffery. It’s a limited performance, but it earned Pitt an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor. 12 Monkeys is based on a French short film and is shot very similar to Terry Gilliam’s other sci-fi trip Brazil.

I followed the time jumping story pretty well, but I think the goal was to have you question everything Cole experiences. Dr. Kathryn Railly is a psychiatrist who tries to convince Cole that he’s crazy, until Railly starts thinking she’s crazy herself. Since everything about the doomed future begins to add up. 12 Monkeys is like Terminator with how it puts more focus on characters who are desperately on the run in the present. With cryptic dreams that pay off in a very unexpected way by the end. 12 Monkeys is an engaging think piece that hits close to home with its depiction of the future.

12 Monkeys

James Cole explores the surface