Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa, 2.5/5

Rated PG. Click here to view the trailer.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to move it move it as much as the next guy, but Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa just didn’t do it do it for me.

First of all, the movie picks up in Madagascar where the original left off, which means if there’s to be any escaping, it will be FROM Africa, not TO (2) Africa. Geography lesson aside, here’s the skinny:

Our quartet of marooned NYC urban-jungle dwellers are attempting to escape from their island “paradise” and able to do so with the aid of some very skilled (and verbose) penguins and a few thousand helpful lemurs under the command of King Julien (voice of Sacha Baron Cohen). Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) are desperate to make it back to their lives of comfort, but wouldn’tyaknowit, there’s a problem and their plane crashes in a wildlife preserve in sub-Saharan Africa. Apparently this is Real Africa, and Madagascar is just Poser Africa.

There are a few funny moments here (penguins with switchblades are inherently funny… surprisingly, so are dying giraffes), but it’s missing the charm and simplicity of the original. There are too many new characters introduced and too many new subplots. Perhaps the biggest crime is that one new character is voiced by Alec Baldwin and it isn’t a homerun. Tragic. The rest of the high-profile voice talent (including Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter and will.i.am) are all OK, but aside from Cohen’s King Julien and the crew of Penguins (Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights and Conrad Vernon), it’s all a wash.

I know I like to talk about movies in terms of elements of other movies, but in this case, the movie makers just got lazy. Madagascar 2 blatantly mashes together the EXACT plots of The Lion King, Lord of the Flies, and – wait for it – Joe Versus the Volcano to come up with an “original” story.

It’s not a bad movie by any means, and it’s worth spending $6 bucks to take the kid. It’s just not near as fun or original as it should be.

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