“Madagascar Escape 2 Africa” – Susan Granger reviews

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Three years after the original “Madagascar,” the animals-on-the-run from the Central Park Zoo and their pals depart for New York on in a rickety plane operated by a canny, if pesky penguin crew and crash-land on the vast plains of Africa.

That’s just where – many years earlier – Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) was lured away from his stern father Zuba (Bernie Mac) by hunters. It’s also where Marty the motor-mouthed zebra (Chris Rock) has an identity crisis amid his lookalike brethren. Sassy, self-confident Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) finds romance with a hot-to-trot waterhole heartthrob, Moto Moto (will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas), much to the consternation of Melman, the shy, hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer) who truly loves her despite their genetic differences. While the others are discovering their roots, the Lemur King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his associate/cousin Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) are in their element with a new continent to conquer.

Then there are peripheral characters, like scheming Makunga (Alec Baldwin), who aspires to be alpha lion in Alex’s pride. And Nana (Elisa Gabrielli), the feisty old lady who beat up Alex in Grand Central Station and is now on safari in a tourist-stuffed SUV.

Amid the silly slapstick, constant jabbering and pop tunes, writer/directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, along with Etan Cohen, stick with the friendship theme as the plucky, pampered menagerie explores their emotional angst. And in the trivia trough, file the fact that Ben Stiller’s own son, Quinlan, voices Alex as a cub, while Jada Pinkett’s daughter Willow is baby Gloria. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Madagascar Escape 2 Africa” is a vivid, if scattered 6 and should satisfy kids who have been eagerly anticipating this sequel.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.