Madagascar sequel brighter, funnier than original |

Madagascar sequel brighter, funnier than original

Roger EbertUniversal Press SyndicateAspen, CO Colorado
DreamworksMadagascar: Escape 2 Africa features voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and many others.

These poor animals. First, theyre hauled away from the comforts of the Central Park Zoo to be stranded on Madagascar. Then they find a crashed Cargo Cult airplane from WWII, tape the plane together and try to fly it back home. Why would they rather be in New York? Cant get a cab in Madagascar? They all belong to separate species, but theyre comfortable with diversity. These guys would have turned themselves in to Noah.It doesnt look like that plane is gonna make it. That doesnt mean across the Atlantic from Africa. It means across Africa to the Atlantic. Do they (or their audience) realize Madagascar is EAST of Africa, in the Indian Ocean? How I know, I had a friend from Madagascar once. Beat me at chess. Some people are probably wondering about the title Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, because they think the animals escaped 2 Africa in the first place. Now shouldnt they be escaping 4rom Africa? So they take off, and (spoiler?) crash in Africa. Now they are faced with exactly the same dilemma as in the first film: Can wild animals survive in the wild?They do a pretty funny job, which is the point. This is a brighter, more engaging film than the original Madagascar. Ill bet Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg was hands-on. When he was at Disney, he made friends with a lion during the filming of The Lion King. He even appeared with it on a leash at the junket. He looked more relaxed than the members of the press. Usually at a junket, theyre the ones who do the eating.All of the original voice talents are back, doing their original characters. What an all-star cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, and, who has one of those names like his mother was frightened during pregnancy by a typographer.The look of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is open and sunlit. Better the wild savannah than the dense jungle. The action is thrilling (sacrifices to a volcano, a struggle for water), and there is a touching romance between Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe. I want to think Melman is not named after Larry (Bud) Melman, but I dont have the strength of character. Anyway, the prospect of a giraffe making love to a hippo is enough to set me writing limericks. Can it be done? I think it might be safer than a hippo making love to a giraffe.So OK, kids, if you liked the first one, this is better. Your parents may like it, too, although they may have to dash out for just a second to see Soul Men.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Dreamworks presents an animated film directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath. Running time: 88 minutes. Classified: PG (for some mild crude humor). Rated: three stars out of four.

Ann HornadayThe Washington PostMadagascar: Escape 2 Africa epitomizes the best and the worst of what animated filmmaking has become in an era dominated by computerized imagery, saturation-level pop-culture references and parents who demand their own entertainment as they suffer through another matinee with the kids. Visually captivating, this sequel to the 2005 hit about zoo animals on the lam suffers from a plethora of subplots and suggestive humor aimed at viewers in the upper range of its PG-rated demographic. This is, after all, a movie that opens with a shamelessly crowd-pleasing shot of four boogieing animal tushies.Those ample posteriors belong to Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), who are on their way back home to the Central Park Zoo when their plane crashes into the African veld. Its at this point that the myriad storylines multiply like so many wildebeests. But fans of the first Madagascar will find much to enjoy, even as the movie threatens to sink from its over-plotted weight. The animation bursts with detail, texture and color, and there are moments of humor, mostly from Sacha Baron Cohens lemur King Julien.

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