Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa picks up right where its predecessor left off — the quartet of Central Park animals are now ready to leave Madagascar on a plane manned by the penguins. You have the same characters: Alex the show lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the fast-talking zebra (voiced by comedian Chris Rock), Melman the awkward giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith) who is blissfully unaware of Melman’s affections for her.
Almost as soon as they take off, these four creatures are left stranded in a wildlife reserve in Africa when their plane crash-lands. As the penguins set about to salvage the situation, Alex and company discover their wild tribes.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa follows each of them and their individual set of problems and dilemmas. Alex reunites with his long-lost parents only to find himself mocked for not being the tough-fighting lion he is expected to be. Marty joins a herd of zebras who walk and talk just like him, which makes him start to question his own individuality. Melman serves as witch doctor to the giraffes in the reserve and finds himself a love rival in the form of smarmy, smooth operator Moto Moto (Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am) who has set his sights of Gloria. If that sounds overwhelming, gird yourself for a slew of other subplots involving a main antagonist, a group of lost tourists, lemurs and an alliance between penguins and monkeys.
Dreamworks’ animated films have been hit and miss (hits: Kung Fu Panda, Shrek; miss: Shark Tale) so, admittedly, my expectations were relatively low for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. There is a lot going on in the movie and you have to hand it to directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath for being ambitious. The cast is packed to the brim with big names including Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Alec Baldwin, Andy Richter and even the late Bernie Mac.
There are numerous comic moments peppered throughout the course of the movie, maintaining the pace and keeping the energy high. Kids will definitely love this fun caper and while it is not as nicely crafted as Shrek (arguably one of Dreamworks Animations’ finest works), it will keep the kids happy and the parents reasonably entertained.