Some people are really good at giving compliments. They notice our new clothes or new hairstyle, and they always approve. They take interest in our family and our hobbies. They’re always in our corner, telling us we deserve the promotion that the other guy got. Telling us how smart and skilled we are, and how cute our kids are. They might even be sincere about it.
But that’s as deep as it gets.
Sometimes that kind of attention can be distracting, making us believe that a someone who loads on compliments really believes in us and cares about us. But sometimes those surface-level compliments are an indication that the other person can’t really see anything more in us that what’s obvious from a first impression.
In the film, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”, the hapless talking-animal heroes from the first film escape the island of Madagascar, where they were stranded. They plan to return home to New York’s Central Park Zoo, by flying in a barely-salvaged plane, which they launch into the air with a gigantic slingshot.
It doesn’t quite work.
But it gives them enough altitude to help them fly to the coast of Africa, where they discover an entire range of animals like themselves. Alex, the Lion (Ben Stiller), discovers his long-lost lion parents. Marty, the Zebra (Chris Rock), discovers an entire herd of zebras just like himself. Melman, the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), gains respect from fellow giraffes who ask him to be their local witch doctor (though he actually functions more like a physician). And Gloria, the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), seeks the affections of a handsome male hippo named Moto-Moto (will.i.am). The once-isolated, individual creatures have found whole communities to join.
But they each encounter problems, as others expect them to behave like the rest of their animal kind. Alex completely disappoints his father, Zuba (Bernie Mac), when he attempts to impress the lion tribe with his dance moves, unaware that “real” lions are supposed to fight, not dance. Marty discovers that no one can distinguish him from any of the other zebras, who look, talk, and act exactly like he does, making him wonder if there’s anything unique about him at all.
“Who’s your friend?” Gloria responds casually. “Or is that your butt?”
“So,” Gloria says, reclining. “You’re Moto-Moto.”
“The name’s so nice, you say it twice.”
“I kinda like it, Fatso.”
“I’ll see you around, girl. Won’t be hard, because you so … plumpin’.”
“Okay, so … what is it about me that you find so interesting?” she asks him.
“Well, you are the most plumpin’est girl I ever met.”
“Okay,” she acknowledges happily. “Other than that.”
“Let’s see. Yeah, well … well, you know, you chunky!”
Seeing that she’s disappointed, Moto-Moto tries to think fast. “Uh … My gosh. Girl, you huge.”
“You said that.”
“Oh. Yeah, that’s right. We don’t have to talk no more.”
Moto-Moto puckers up for a kiss, only to be interrupted by Melman, who also has strong feelings for Gloria.
“Listen, Mo-to-to,” Melman warns. “You’d better treat this lady like a queen. Because you, my friend, you found yourself the perfect woman. If I was ever so lucky to find the perfect woman, I would give her flowers every day. And not just any flowers, okay? Her favorites are orchids. White. And breakfast in bed. Six loaves of wheat toast with butter on both sides, no crust, the way she likes it. I’d be her shoulder to cry on, and her best friend. And I’d spend every day trying to think of how to make her laugh. She has the most amazing laugh.”
Having said his piece, Melman walks off, leaving Gloria stunned, and Moto-Moto confused. Melman knew Gloria inside and out, and appreciated her for more than just her size. Something that Moto-Moto never even considered.
“Anyways,” Moto-Moto says, dismissing Melman. “Where were we?”
“‘I’m huge’?” Gloria suggests dryly.
Gloria quickly drops Moto-Moto and his fixation on her hugeness, and pursues Melman. Meanwhile, Marty learns that friends like Alex still can identify him for their shared experiences (and wounds), and Zuba learns that Alex’s dancing skills can sometimes come in handy.
We can’t expect everyone to look beneath the surface and appreciate who we really are inside. But we can expect that kind of attention from our closest family and friends.
Don’t settle for surface-level compliments, and don’t be schmoozed by a smooth-talker. Not everyone who shows you support is interested in who you really are inside.
Find more reviews of “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” on amazon.com!
Thursday, February 25th, 2010