Movie Reviews

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Ben Stiller as Alex (voice)
Chris Rock as Marty / Additional Zebras (voice)
David Schwimmer as Melman (voice)
Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria (voice)
Sacha Baron Cohen as Julien (voice)
Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice (voice)
Andy Richter as Mort (voice)
Bernie Mac as Zuba (voice)
Alec Baldwin as Makunga (voice)
Sherri Shepherd as Mom (voice)
Will i Am as Moto Moto (voice)
Elisa Gabrielli as Nana
Tom McGrath as Skipper / Lemur #1 (voice)
Chris Miller as Kowalski (voice)
Christopher Knights as Private (voice)

Summary:
"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" is a solid sequel and any family that enjoyed the first film will enjoy this.

Story:
Shortly after the events of "Madagascar," Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, and the penguins prepare to return to New York City on a patched-together airplane. The lemur king Julien and his right hand man Maurice go along for the ride, too. Along the way, the plane has some mechanical problems and they crash-land in the middle of Africa.

While the zoo animals are at first afraid of their new surroundings, they quickly realize it's the place they belong when they discover more of their own kind. Marty falls in with the zebra herd, Melman becomes a giraffe witch doctor, and Gloria falls in love with a sexy male hippo named Moto Moto. But most importantly, Alex is reunited with his mother and his father, Zuba.

Zuba is king of the pride and is overjoyed by the return of his son who was kidnapped by poachers years before. However, another lion named Makunga uses the happy reunion as an opportunity to win control of the pride and all the animals in the wildlife reserve. It's up to Alex and his friends to save the day and restore everything to normal in the savannah.

"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" is rated PG for some mild crude humor.

What Worked:
I enjoyed the first "Madagascar" film. It was fun, my family got a kick out of it, and we had a pleasant movie-going experience when seeing it. That being said, I wasn't exactly clamoring for a sequel. In fact, I went into this movie practically blind. The only thing I saw in advance was the trailer and the annoying "I Like to Move It" song wasn't really a selling point. So I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the sequel.

The first movie covered the story of taking zoo animals and throwing them back into the wild. Fortunately, the creators found more ground to cover by dumping them in their homeland and introducing them to more animals like themselves. This offers up a lot funny directions to take the story as they experience reverse culture shock. Gloria is wooed by a fat, macho hippo. Marty deals with the fact that all zebras look alike (they don't take it as far as you might expect Rock to go in regards to race). And Alex learns the hard way what it's like to be a lion. In fact, the sequel ends up being a kiddie version of "Tropic Thunder" as the dancing superstar Alex is thrown into the harsh and violent real world while he mistakenly believes he's there to perform. Fortunately, it's still funny here.

All the characters that made the first movie so fun return in top form. The penguins steal the show again. However, Sacha Baron Cohen manages to top even the penguins as Julien. A scene where he teaches Melman how to win the heart of Gloria is one of the highlights of the film. But there are a few new characters that are fun, too. Bernie Mac has a bittersweet performance as Zuba, Alex's father. His exasperation at Alex is funny, but it's definitely a sad reminder that this talented actor is gone. I'm not a big fan of Alec Baldwin, but he was good as Makunga, the rival lion. I was really afraid when he appeared that this was going to be a parody of "The Lion King," but it never went in that direction despite having a lot of similar plot points.

I don't really think the animation did anything technologically groundbreaking here. What you'll find noteworthy are the performances of the characters. From silly motions to hilarious facial expressions, the animators did good work.

What Didn't Work:
While many of the fan favorites reappear in this sequel, there's one that should have been left behind this round – the Old lady. She appears again… and again… and again. It's funny at first. Who wouldn't laugh at an old lady beating up a lion? But it is run into the ground and by the end you wish she'd get eaten or something. It was overkill.

I'll also add that the opening scene where Alex is kidnapped from his father is a tad intense. Some younger kids might get freaked out by it. Be warned!

The Bottom Line:
If you and your family enjoyed the first "Madagascar" film, you'll enjoy this one. It has some great moments in it that thankfully aren't ruined by the ads. This one's worth checking out.

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