A pack of not-so-wild animals experience some serious culture shock when they move from the Big Apple to the Mighty Jungle in this computer-animated comedy. Alex (voice of Ben Stiller) is a lion who enjoys a charmed life as one of the leading attractions at a zoo in New York City's Central Park. While Alex and his pals Marty the Zebra (voice of Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (voice of Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the Giraffe (voice of David Schwimmer) are happy with their lot in life, they occasionally have a certain curiosity about the outside world, and when the zoo's penguins decide to make a break for it, Marty follows them into the city. Alex, Gloria, and Melman set out to find Marty before he gets into trouble, but they're a bit too late, and soon the zookeepers have decided that the animals are restless and need to be returned to the wild. Soon the critters find themselves living on the coast of Madagascar, where they quickly discover they aren't quite suited for living in the wild. Madagascar also features the voice talents of Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, and Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G).
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Your favorite castaways are back – still together and still lost! One of the top movies of the year, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is “even better than the first!” (Mark Hyman, FOX-TV). You’ll laugh out loud as this outrageous comedy takes you on an African adventure like no other.
The penguins steal the show. In the sprightly Madagascar, a mid-life crisis inspires Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) to escape from his lifelong home, a New York zoo. His equally pampered friends--Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer)--then escape to bring him back. Unfortunately, their attempt at damage control persuades zoo officials that the animals are unhappy, so all four get shipped to an animal preserve in Kenya...only a squad of maniacal penguins change the destination to Antarctica. The quartet end up on an island where, in addition to meeting some hedonistic lemurs, they learn about the food chain--and that Alex is a different link on the chain from the other three. Madagascar doesn't achieve the snappy perfection of a Pixar movie, but it tops most other computer-animated efforts; the collision of friendship and predator instincts makes for an unusually gripping conflict. The vocal performances of the central characters is serviceable, but Sacha Baron Cohen (Da Ali G Show) provides topnotch lunacy as the lemur king, and the penguins--voiced mostly by the animators themselves--are the best thing in the movie. --Bret Fetzer
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
The sequel to the animated movie Madagascar gives more of everything audiences loved in the first movie: More of the penguins; more of Julian, king of the lemurs; more musical bits of classic rock; and many, many more lions, zebras, hippos, and giraffes. In the first film, a quartet of coddled zoo animals found themselves shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar in a misguided effort to return them to the wild. InMadagascar: Escape 2 Africa, a failed attempt to fly back to New York maroons Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) in an animal preserve on the African continent, accompanied by the four deranged penguins and the lunatic lemur king (deliriously voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat). By wild coincidence, this is where Alex was born--and where his father is still the alpha lion, and where his malevolent uncle seeks to take over (let's call this an homage to The Lion King). The other beasts have their own story arcs, but really it's all an excuse for daffy comic bits. Though the result is disposable, it's also entirely entertaining. The action sequences pop with dizzying spectacle; though some jokes are mainstream fodder, more often they're surprisingly quirky and engagingly oddball. This is the best kind of cotton candy filmmaking--it dissolves into nothing, but it's oh-so-sweet to the taste. --Bret Fetzer