‘Madagascar,’ giraffe/hippo love and millions upon millions of Sour Patch Kids

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GateHouse — First of all, let me say that yes, I know that when at the movie theater, the food available for purchase come in absurd, gigantor sizes that make you want to slap your head and call your momma. And keep in mind that I’m using “food” here as a sweeping, generalizing noun that covers everything that could remotely be considered put-in-mouthable (sorry, Arby’s) and, thus, most of the globular sugar-clump-balls that have been the primary source of theater-based nourishment ever since movies were invented in 1967.

I also know that making big-food jokes is sort of like riffing on Sam’s Club these days, or flight attendants, or the C&C Music Factory. But I have recently returned from a screening of the film “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” with the family, and my body is currently attempting to form structurally sound sentences while working through enough popcorn to fuel the Large Hadron Collider, the state of New Jersey or up to three Ford Expeditions for a week.

Like all children’s movies released in the past eight years, “Madagacar 2” is entirely populated by overexpressive CGI animals who make butt jokes to each other. The difference is in “Madagascar” this is done while the “I like to move it move it” song is either playing, has just played or is backstage having a nice cold lemonade preparing to play again.

I hadn’t seen the original “Madagascar,” which made the richly developed characterizations and subtle plot nuance of this sequel a little hard to grasp, but within the first few minutes here’s what I figured out: There is a sad-looking giraffe who is desperately in love with a hippopotamus, which doesn’t seem to trouble anyone (even the hippopotamus); and even when he is a lion, Ben Stiller can only play one character. Also, though the movie “Once” gets an “R” rating for two bad words, a children’s film in which an anthropomorphic lion spends about 45 minutes repeatedly punching an elderly woman in the mouth gets more TV advertising than Cialis during halftime on Sundays.

Anyway, as I say, I had never seen the original “Madagascar,” but the boy has apparently seen it at school once or twice. This necessitated this trip out to see the sequel, as well as made me wonder exactly what kind of school we are evidently sending him to.

So we get to the theater for family movie afternoon, where my wife visits the nice folks at the concession stand, all of whom appear to be violating many of the country’s child labor laws. She ends up ordering The Large, a defensive-sounding Value Meal that comprises, in theory anyway, a tub of popcorn, two drinks and a box of candy – which, it is decreed by the boy, will be a bag filled with many hundreds of Sour Patch Kids – for the reasonable price of $85.99.

Sour Patch Kids, incidentally, are 20 pounds of terrible in a 10-pound box. (After the movie, the boy proposed topping off his feast with a post-meal aperitif of Juicy Fruit gum. The boy’s food pyramid on Sunday was more like a rhombus, or an extremely gooey dodecahedron. The boy’s nutrition, if you haven’t already surmised, is among our most pivotal concerns.)

After asking a few of his friends to help lift the Sour Patch Kids, the endearing teen behind the counter then turns his attention to the drinks ordered by my wife and I — massive, huge beverages that I am pretty sure respond to the tides.

The vessel of popcorn they have presented us with is hardly any less terrifying. It is large enough to submerge a newborn baby in it, which I do not recommend doing regularly, unless you need to butter up your baby for some reason, which isn’t something you’ll probably ever have to do unless you’re Anne Geddes.

But here’s the kicker: Having decided that we could uniformly, absolutely not even remotely begin to CONSIDER eating 29 pounds of popcorn without additional toppings, my wife asked the nice 9-year-old behind the counter where one might be able to locate white cheddar topping. She was told that the topping, which is identified proudly as a “certified nacho cheese product,” would run her an additional $1.50. Yes, citizens of Earth, it has come to this: a 19-cent sack of popcorn is $10; for just a few more bones you can even make that popcorn have a flavor.

There’s no real point to this other than shining a light on the aggressively, gloriously American experience of going to watch a giraffe with the voice of David Schwimmer hit on a hippo by calling her fat while eating enough popcorn that when the movie is over and the house lights go up, you look at your half-consumed tub of aggressively buttered snackables and think, my God, please, tell me that other children have been sneaking over and helping themselves to this abomination. On the other hand, if they have, the cheese product they’ve been enjoying has been certified.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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