A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to the popular animated movie Madagascar will likely please all ages. But there are some mild sexual allusions (Gloria the hippo flirts with a brawny male hippo who likes her figure and isn't shy about saying so) and cartoonish violence (sequences include a plane crash, a handbag-packing grandma, and hunters wielding guns). There's also come crude/potty humor to watch out for, and an upsetting scene early on in which a young Alex is separated from his father against his will.
What's the story?
The superstars of the New York Zoo -- Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) -- are finally headed home. Or so it seems. Instead, their sketchy Air Penguin plane crashes, landing them in the African savannah. But not just any savannah: It turns out to be Alex's former stomping grounds, where he roamed as a cub until poachers snagged him while his father was fending off an attack from deceitfully ambitious foe Makunga (Alec Baldwin). Alex's father's people embrace his arrival -- until Makunga manages to get him banished. Meanwhile, Marty wrestles with insecurity when he realizes that other zebras are a lot like him, Melman must contain his jealousy over Gloria's growing interest in male hippos, and how are they ever going to find their way back home?
Is it any good?
Cheerful and entertaining, if a mite predictable, MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA won't disappoint fans of the original. All of the endearing mainstays are back, including the beloved band of devious, mechanically inclined penguins. The movie is also blessed with the same catchy theme song -- "I Like to Move It" -- as the first, and it's guaranteed to leave visions of lemurs and lions dancing in audiences' heads for weeks.
The movie's jokes mostly make the cut (though Sacha Baron Cohen's preening as Julien the lemur may tire grownups after a while, if not kids) -- but though it's better than many originals, it doesn't quite qualify as a classic, if only because the story doesn't offer any real surprises. (Even the mean handbag lady makes an expected appearance.) Nevertheless, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa provides the sweet escape you long for when you go to the movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's portrayals of friendships and how friends can deal with their companions' different personalities.
Families can also discuss the film's use of clichés and stereotypes as jokes.
Also, ask kids what they think about Alex's dilemma, especially when he realizes he's not like the other lions who grew up with a pride. What do you think of how he handles the situation?
And what of Melman and Gloria and Marty's plight after finding themselves in the savannah? How does their adventure tear them apart and -- more importantly -- bring them together?
- In theaters: November 8, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: February 6, 2009
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith
- Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild crude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.