Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath
Amusingly examining the disappointment a father feels when his son turns out to be effeminate, along with the anxieties of assimilation, unrequited love and proving oneself, Madagascar 2 is a thematically busy film that proves almost superior to its successful predecessor by utilizing established character patterns and expanding on them. Aside from a serious over-estimation of the likeability of the old lady character, the elements are well balanced, matching comedy with drama in a tonally congruous manner without resorting to scatological guffaws or unearned emotional pandering. Jumping in where the first film left off, the New York zoo gang say goodbye to their Madagascar friends, setting off in a makeshift plane to America with Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) in tow. Suffering a plane crash on this journey, the crew find themselves in Africa, where Alex (Ben Stiller) quickly stumbles across his long lost parents (Bernie Mac and Sherri Shepherd) on a wildlife reserve. While Alex tries to prove his manly worth in the lion world, Marty (Chris Rock) learns that he's not all that different from other zebras and Melman (David Schwimmer) struggles to reveal his affections to Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith). Madagascar 2 is a charming, sincere and entirely likeable children's film that parents can enjoy without nausea while their offspring watch it repeatedly. Like most kids' films, Escape 2 Africa comes with a ridiculous amount of supplements, including a commentary track with the directors and producers, an in-flight remote control game, sing-along music videos from the movie, introductory Swahili lessons and a variety of featurettes on the visual effects and voices behind the animated characters. In addition, a bonus DVD with two episodes of the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar Nickelodeon series is included with a variety of wildlife-oriented featurettes and DVD-Rom videogames. As a package, it is all quite impressive, despite the fact that the Penguins cartoon kind of sucks. (Paramount)