CHRIS ROCK voices Marty the zebra in "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."
MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA
★ out of four stars
Rating: PG for some mild crude humor.
'Escape' while you still can
- Article by: COLIN COVERT
- Star Tribune
- November 7, 2008 - 12:41 PM
"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" is an 89-minute Happy Meal of a movie. It's bright and simple, handsomely designed and enjoyable enough for children, I guess, but entirely without interest to grownups. Where "Bee Movie" and "Kung Fu Panda" included jokes and ideas designed to reward repeated viewings, this mediocre sequel to the 2005 DreamWorks Animation hit doesn't offer much to engage minds that have moved beyond coloring books.
For the record, the story gives us a group of neurotic New York Zoo animals stranded on the titular island just off Africa's coast. The theatrically inclined lion Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller), smack-talking zebra Marty (Chris Rock), fretful giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) and curvaceous hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) are itching to return to safe, secure life behind bars in Manhattan. Their fellow refugee penguins are flightless, but they're still birds, so they repair a decrepit airplane to carry everyone home. With loony lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his henchman Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) also on board, they make it as far as the mainland before crash landing. In the savannah, Alex meets his parents (the late Bernie Mac and Sherri Shepherd) for the first time since poachers snatched him as a toddler.
Alec Baldwin plays a conniving lion who aims to replace Mac as the leader of the pride, while Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am voices a basso profundo hippo love interest for Gloria, sending her shy suitor Melman into the dumps.
If you're suffering from character overload at this point, there's good reason. The film's more-the-merrier construction overstuffs the story with subplots. And we haven't even mentioned the human hunters and New York tourists who swell the script's population. There's a great deal going on, none of it too absorbing or consequential. A walk in the park, a trip to the museum or an afternoon of checkers would serve most kids (and all adults) much better.
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186
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