Rating: Rated PG (Mild animated violence)
Not a fan of the original Madagascar (too many in-jokes for the voice stars undermining the cartoon capers), I approached this sequel with some trepidation. However, I found it far better and funnier (and less 'in') than the first film.
Maybe, there is a touch more of the human this time (and some echoes of The Lion King) where we are shown Alex, the King of New York in zoo showbiz, as a cub more intent on dancing than fighting, where we see his father confronting his rival for leader of the pride of lions, where we see the mischievous Alex caught by hunters and his imprisoning box floating to New York and the life that we saw in the first film with his friends, Marty, Gloria and Melman.
This time they want to go to Connecticut but land up in Madagascar, presumably, and getting a lift back to New York in a ramshackle plane piloted by the penguins which then has an amusing crash landing in deepest Africa – where Alex originally came from. What follows is Alex finding his roots (and confronting his father's rival after he fails the initiation rite), is Gloria falling love with a very large hippo to Melman's dismay, is Melman offering himself as a sacrifice to the gods of the volcano to get water back, is Marty finding that all zebras look the same even though each is unique. King Julien is on hand again, just as manic, and leading the ceremony for the sacrifice. There are some humans too, especially a determined 'little old lady' intent on controlling the big 'kitties'.
Lots of zany action, some funny musical allusions, some adventure and danger – and the entertaining voices of Ben Stiller as Alex, Chris Rock doing his shtick as Marty, David Schwimmer mournful as Melman, Jada Pinkett Smith romantically hippo as Gloria and Sacha Baron Cohen on the loose as King Julien. The voice of Makunga, the villain line, had a touch of sinister whispering familiarity about it – Alex Baldwin.
A lot of nonsense, of course, but this time engagingly so.
Paramount Out December 11
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.