by Rick Grant
A / Rated PG / 89 min
Those nutty talking animals of the NYC Zoo return to the screen for a hilarious sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Like in the original film, the penguin squad steals the movie with their shenanigans, such as their dilapidated airplane ride back to NYC. The pilot penguin is in love with a bobble head Hawaiian doll. This penguin airline makes Jet Blue look like a broken down flight service. The pieced together plane ends up crashing in Africa with the gaggle of city animals who are ill-equipped to deal with their brethren in the willds of Africa.
After the crash landing, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) Melman the Giraffe, (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinket Smith) are off on a misadventure to discover their roots. As the penguin plane is plummeting to earth, Melman panicks and finally flirts with Gloria. Yes, it’s a mixed species romance that Melman keeps under wraps for fear of rejection.
Undaunted optimist, Marty discovers a tribe of zebras who look exactly like him. He’s ecstatic to be among his species for the first time. Melman becomes a witch doctor to the animals but is convinced he is suffering from “witch doctor disease.”
Gloria finds her kin to be a bit slow on the uptake. She is courted by a smooth hippo operator who is flashy but dumb. Of course, Gloria doesn’t know that Melman is smitten by her.
When the water hole dries up, Melman the witch doctor is tasked with sacrificing himself in the volcano by the niggling little king to bring the water back. Meanwhile, Alex and Marty set out to find the source of the water back up. It’s a jungle out there in animated animal land with many funny sequences.
Alex finds his parents in the lion community. But, the rival alpha male claims that young Alex must compete for his place in the pride as a right of passage. Alex thinks all he must do is dance, which the conniving rival lets him believe. In reality, it’s a fight with the rival’s son, a big and experienced fighter.
Directed by Eric Damell and Tom Magrath from a screenplay written by Etan Cohen, the 2nd film is consistently funny with many clever bits and heartwarming scenes. This picture as well as many other animated PG rated movies have become wildly popular with all age groups. This script has adult and kids’ humor along with charismatic characters that appeal to families and sentimentalists like me. In many ways, the animated family film has become the benchmark for filling theaters when other genres are not doing the job.
Screenwriter Etan Cohen’s in-depth understanding of human nature is deftly infused into each distinct character who exhibiit human-like neuroses. The scenes with the enterprising penguins are memorable and guffaw producing. This a film to savor and enjoy for everyone-guaranteed!
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
by Rick Grant