Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Movie Information

The Story: The various zoo animals from 2005’s Madagascar return in an attempt to leave the island of Madagascar and head home, only to end up on the mainland in the company of Alex the lion’s estranged family. The Lowdown: A safe and comfy sequel to an already lacking original, with this one offering more dull pop-culture references and unexciting plotting.
Score:

Genre: Animated Comedy
Director: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath (Madagascar)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen
Rated: PG

I’d like to start by pointing out that the title for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa doesn’t make a lick of sense. Unless you’re running for vice president, it’s geographically specious, since the island of Madagascar itself belongs to the continent of Africa. But then again, I guess Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Again doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The only reason I’m being this nitpicky is because this little discrepancy helps to illustrate the animated comedy’s biggest weakness: This sequel is basically the original Madagascar, but shifted a few hundred miles to the west. It’s the same voice talent, the same worn out pop-culture references (does the world really need yet another parody of The Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet?”) and the same ironic use of excruciatingly bad ‘90s dance music. Really, I could probably just copy and paste Ken Hanke’s Xpress review of the original from three years ago as a sign of unity as to Dreamworks’ need to recycle material, but I’m apparently supposed to have some sort of journalistic integrity that keeps me from doing so.

The animated high jinks this time center around the same core of friends—Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith)—as they crash-land their makeshift aircraft into mainland Africa. But as luck and scripting would have it, they find themselves in the middle of a picturesque nature reserve, which just so happens to hold Alex’s long lost parents (Bernie Mac and Sherri Shepherd, Who’s Your Caddy?). Complications ensue, of course, as dear old dad’s longtime enemy (Alec Baldwin) cooks up a plan to get them all thrown out of the pride, while the rest of the main characters learn important life lessons within the film’s 90-minute running time.

Much of the main story line is harmless and pleasant enough, but nonetheless pretty dull and uneventful. The latter is predicated more on the uninteresting nature of the characters than anything else. This is thrown into stark contrast when many of the underused supporting characters—such as the well-liked penguins or chess-playing monkeys—are on-screen, and the movie suddenly appears to have some modicum of life to it. It’s still a wonder that a full-blown sequel was made instead of a simple penguins spin-off, seeing as how they get the majority of the good out of the movie. But the lack of voice-talent recognition probably put the kibosh on that idea. After all, everyone knows that crowds were lining up around the block simply for the joy of hearing David Schwimmer’s voice jacked up to 100 decibels.

There is, however, an interesting strain of subversion going on in regards to lion Alex’s preference to Fosse dance numbers as opposed to tooth-and-nail violence. As a result, Alex’s “lionhood” is questioned by his father before his father’s eventual acceptance of who his son is in the final act. Still, it all feels lifted just a bit too much from Jack Black’s dolphin drag-wearing shark from Shark Tale to give it too much credit. However, it is refreshing—and maybe a bit disappointing in the long run—to see that there is some thought going on beneath the surface, even if it’s in the face of an utterly superfluous film. Rated PG for some mild crude humor.

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19 thoughts on “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

  1. TigerShark

    I actually enjoyed it. Even up to the ending…with the usual “plea for tolerance.” (I admit, I just saw it an hour ago but I can’t remember the exact quote) of everyone embracing everyone else’s differences – as the Penguin marries the Dancing Tiki doll, sort of resonated with the current brouhaha about gays being unable to marry. A feel-good movie about friendship – I’d back it against “Role Models” any day.

  2. TigerShark

    And now censorship has come to the paper? Over movie reviews? Shame!

  3. Ken Hanke

    And now censorship has come to the paper? Over movie reviews? Shame!

    Would you care to explain that?

  4. TigerShark

    I used to type a comment, hit submit, and it would show up right away. Now it has to wait to be “moderated”? Sounds like censorship. If I say something you don’t like, you don’t post it, right?

  5. Ken Hanke

    Well, you aren’t, it seems, a registered user (otherwise your name would be underlined and linked), which automatically means your post will be moderated and it depends entirely on there being someone there to moderate it.

    Most message boards are moderated one way or another, but, for the record, I’m not a moderator and have nothing to do with deciding whether or not a post gets approved. So whether or not you say something I don’t like doesn’t enter into it.

    In any case, you weren’t even actually addressing me, because I didn’t write this review, nor have I seen Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Role Models got top pick solely because I gave it higher marks than Justin gave Madagascar.

  6. TigerShark

    >>In any case, you weren’t even actually addressing me, because I didn’t write this review, nor have I seen Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

    Never said I was. Never said you did.

    I didn’t expect my second comment to be posted – seems kind of stupid that it was snce it was just a private comment to whoever was doing the moderating.

    >>>Well, you aren’t, it seems, a registered user (otherwise your name would be underlined and linked), which automatically means your post will be moderated

    I *am* a registered user, which is why I was surprised to see that moderated comment come up.

    >> for the record, I’m not a moderator and have nothing to do with deciding whether or not a post gets approved.

    Then why are you even commenting about it? Shouldn’t it be the moderator’s job to explain this to me? And since you didn’t write the review why are you reading comments made about it, anyway?

  7. Ken Hanke

    I *am* a registered user, which is why I was surprised to see that moderated comment come up.

    Then there’s either a flaw in the system or you made those comments without logging in. Your last post indicates your registered user status. The two earlier posts don’t indicate that.

    Then why are you even commenting about it? Shouldn’t it be the moderator’s job to explain this to me?

    Because it seemed reasonable to answer a question that I at least knew something about.

    And since you didn’t write the review why are you reading comments made about it, anyway?

    Why shouldn’t I? I mean, I know you like to try to find things to tag me on, but this really seems like reaching. Do you mean to say that you don’t read comments about things you didn’t write?

  8. TigerShark

    >>>Because it seemed reasonable to answer a question that I at least knew something about.

    Fine, whatever.

    >> I mean, I know you like to try to find things to tag me on,

    You’re the guy who writes 99% of the reviews here, right? So if I find something to “tag” in a review, what’re the odds that that “tag” will appear on a review you wrote? Don’t be paranoid.

    >> but this really seems like reaching.

    Let me try again. When I made my first comment, I got the “has to be moderated” message. I didn’t realize I wasn’t logged in, so I sent another message – which I never expected the moderate to publish – commenting on that.

    What you should have said then was: “Well, you must not have been logged in when you posted that comment, and that triggers the “moderation” box.” Log in and it won’t happen again.”

    Short, sweet, and to the point.

    Instead you go on and on and on, like you were writing a review and my post was a bad movie. And you know what you do to bad movies.

  9. TigerShark

    And it happened again. Damn!

    Now, moderator – don’t publish this one!

  10. Ken Hanke

    You’re the guy who writes 99% of the reviews here, right? So if I find something to “tag” in a review, what’re the odds that that “tag” will appear on a review you wrote? Don’t be paranoid.

    Paranoia doesn’t enter into it, but no matter.

    Let me try again. When I made my first comment, I got the “has to be moderated” message. I didn’t realize I wasn’t logged in, so I sent another message – which I never expected the moderate to publish – commenting on that.

    No, you made another post. If you want to send a message, write to webmaster@mountainx.com and that will do it. When you enter a post, it’s going to appear — unless it’s deemed inappropriate or libelous.

    What you should have said then was: “Well, you must not have been logged in when you posted that comment, and that triggers the “moderation” box.” Log in and it won’t happen again.”

    Well, I had no idea that you were registered. Plus, I’ve never made a post without logging in, so I have never seen the “moderation box,” so I wouldn’t know to tell you either one.

    Instead you go on and on and on, like you were writing a review and my post was a bad movie. And you know what you do to bad movies.

    You might look back over the thread. Originally, I asked what you were talking about about being censored — bearing in mind that I saw both posts at the same time. Next — in answer to my question, so presumably addressed to me — you put forth, “If I say something you don’t like, you don’t post it, right?” All I attempted to do was disabuse you of any notion that I control what does or doesn’t get posted.

  11. Louis

    This “virtual” act should be taken out on the road–it has a “Who’s on first…?” revisionist quality about it.

  12. Ken Hanke

    This “virtual” act should be taken out on the road–it has a “Who’s on first…?” revisionist quality about it.

    Bud Abbott’s got nuthin’ on me.

  13. dave

    ooh, yeah, your racy comments about enjoying the movie were obviously censored for being in contrast to the Mountain X’s ultra-right wing anti-tolerance policy.

    Dont take yourself so seriously, bub.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Dave! You have stolen the last word! And now I’ve done so, so I’ll throw out this —

    zymurgy

    There. That’s the last word in my favorite (albeit out of date) dictionary.

  15. TigerShark

    >>ooh, yeah, your racy comments about enjoying the movie were obviously censored for being in contrast to the Mountain X’s ultra-right wing anti-tolerance policy.

    Oh, for god’s sake, Dave.

    Let me explain for the third time.

    I did not realize I was not logged in when I made my first post, so I was caught by surprise when I was told a “moderator” would have to approve my post. This had nevr happened to me before, so I assumed it was a new development. [FYI, I recently upgraded Norton and now it periodically goes in and wipes out the cookies on my computer, which wipes out my saved screen name and password on the various sites I post to. Pisses me off no end, but I can’t figure out how to turn it off.)

    So I made another post, which I did *not* expect to see published, commenting on it. If anything I expected the moderator to email me privately and explain.

    The moderator for some reason decided that that second post was worth publishing.

    So then I find out, in Mr. Hanke’s prolix way, that that message only happens to people who aren’t logged in.

    Not a big deal. Certainly not worth raking up again.

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