Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – A Big Improvement

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Starring the voice talent of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith
Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath (Madagascar)
Rated PG for some mild, crude humor
Appropriate for all ages

    The zoo escapees from the first film are back and ready to leave Madagascar.  Their makeshift plane doesn’t make it too far though, and when they crash land in an animal preserve in the heart of Africa, Alex the lion discovers that he is the long lost son of the aging king.  

    After watching the first Madagascar film I was in pure misery.  Sure the animation looked OK, but the story and production were just plain bad.  So you can only imagine the anticipation I had for this sequel.  Maybe it was the low expectations, or maybe it was just the fact that the film makers raised the bar, but I found myself feeling a sense of enjoyment rather than the dread I expected.  

    First off, the back story following Alex as he is abducted from Africa and his long journey to America was a brilliant touch.  It gave a depth to the story that it was sorely missing.  On top of that, the other characters had real development and weren’t just there for the scenery like in the first film.  On my review of the first film, the only positives I could think of were the Hogan’s Heroes penguins and the British chimps.  These character still provide big laughs, but overall, there is a lot to chuckle at here.  I can easily say that the improvements here make this a truly entertaining picture that adults should enjoy as much as the kiddos.

    All that being said, the film still doesn’t live up to the work of Pixar, or even Disney.  You get the sense that there was an attempt to copy or at least pay homage to The Lion King, but the story is never elevated to that level.  Even with all of the great little touches, the film will never be considered an animated classic, but then again to just overcome its obstacles is saying something and I can honestly recommend this as a fun movie for the entire family to enjoy.    B+