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MADAGASCAR 2, 2008
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MADAGASCAR 2 MOVIE POSTER
MADAGASCAR 2 : Escape 2 Africa
Movie Review

Directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alec Baldwin, Sacha Baron Cohen, Bernie Mac
Review by Jen Frankel



SYNOPSIS:

The sequel of the first movie, the New York Zoo Animals, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo, still stranded on Madagascar, started to leave the island. All of a sudden, they landed in the wilderness of Africa. There, Alex soon meet the rest of his family and starting to have trouble communicating with them after much of his time at the Central Park Zoo.

REVIEW:

Madagascar 2 is a giddy, gloriously effervescent film. I can't remember laughing so often ever in any other ninety minute period, from so many clever and unexpected stimuli.

Dreamworks continues to push the envelope for computer animation. The fur is better than ever; the depth of the frames is unsurpassed. There's almost always something extra going on in this flick, from characters slipping into the background to something hilarious going on completely at odds with the main conversation.

There's tons of fun for adults as well as the most amazingly engaging characters to keep even the littlest tikes entertained.

It's an age-old story, and not so dissimilar to The Lion King. Zuba the Lion's son vanishes as an infant and is given up for lost. Many years later, the prodigal returns and must fight to take his place in the pride.

But there the similarities end. Madagascar is at once smarter and more effusively childlike than the Disney offering. The character voices are terrific, and the designs even more so. So

many times I found myself giggling or even flat out laughing over a twitch of an animal eyebrow or the merest hint of expression on a computer generated face. If that isn't movie magic, I don't know what is!

Add to this that the main antagonists are a oily-voiced Alec Baldwin as an ambitious lion with delusions of grandeur and a tough-as-nails Jewish New Yorker granny, and you've got a minor comedic masterpiece.

For the picky, yes, there are large plot holes. We never really see Alex banished from the animal reserve after he misinterprets the rite of passage that would allow him to stay -- performing a number from West Side Story instead of fighting -- and there are lots of places where it doesn't do to think too hard about the logic of what's happening.

But the emotions run high, and ring so true that it's not hard to forgive some story problems and just luxuriate in the adventure.

The penguins are back from the first film, as is the brilliantly demented King Julian, and all the other favorites. There are a multitude of little lessons from knowing that beauty is only skin deep, to understanding that being yourself is as important as fitting in. But there's no big theme that hits you over the head, no blindingly obvious moral that's hammered home so many times all the fun goes out of the journey.

There's actually some Journey, as well as a bit of Boston... Those penguins have great taste in road-trip music!

You don't even have to worry about seeing the first film, since Madagascar 2 gives a nice little recap off the top, admittedly one of the clunkier bits of the film.

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