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November 12, 2008 > Movie Review: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Movie Review: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

By Joe Samagond

Madagascar 2 is a mildly entertaining movie that has many repackaged aspects to its storyline. Voice stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith return, along with Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer and Alec Baldwin. Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, from the first movie, return to direct and co-write "Escape 2 Africa," with Ethan Cohen sharing screenplay credit.

Our heroes return - giraffe (Melman) in love with a hippo (Gloria), a zebra (Marty) with an identity crisis, a lion (Alex) desperate to win his newfound daddy's respect all marooned in Africa. Isn't that the same story as the first movie? Throw in a jealous uncle and a right of passage ruse and you can see glimmers of "Lion King" as well. In an attempt to escape from Madagascar, the fearless foursome strap in to a derelict plane rebuilt by their quirky penguin comrades for the return to New York. The rickety contraption crashes on the plains of Africa, where Alex is reunited with his parents (Mac and Sherri Shepherd) from whom he was separated as a toddler after poachers captured him. There are just a lot of characters in this movie to the point of distraction, with the late Bernie Mac among the newcomers as dad to Stiller's Alex the lion. Young kids may enjoy this manic mess and the rapid fire slapstick and jabbering dialogue. On the plus side, this series of movies does have a distinct visual style. The landscapes are vast and vivid while the characters' designs have a distinctive look. The best parts of this movie once again are the penguins! They are quite hilarious!

The main players all have their own little subplots. Aside from the prospect of a giraffe-hippo romance, there's nothing remotely challenging - or for the most part, interesting - about any of this. With so many characters to cram in and not much for many of them to do, "Escape 2 Africa" ends up a choppy, chaotic affair. The cacophony and chaos will annoy or bore most parents but they can take some solace in the movie's shorter running time! While it's not the greatest movie of all time, it's fun for children.

Rated: PG
Runtime: 89 minutes

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