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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa



What's all the fuss about? "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" is amusing "? especially if the sight of animated animal butts moving to music turns you on "? beyond which, it's entertaining enough, but it's just a cartoon movie.

This time out, the four animal friends from the Central Park Zoo leave their castaway status in Madagascar and end up in Africa. The continent, not the country. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller, "Tropic Thunder") finds his parents (voiced by Sherri Shepherd, "Who's Your Caddy?," and the late Bernie Mac, "Soul Men"). Kids with long memories will get a kick out of the subversive "Lion King" parody as sinister lion Makunga (Alec Baldwin, TV's "30 Rock," having a ball) tries to take over leadership of the watering hole.

Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer return to voice Alex's friends Marty, Gloria and Melman, but they have little to do. As happened with the first film, this one is stolen by Sacha Baron Cohen ("Borat") as Julien, the lemur king, and Andy Richter ("Semi-Pro") as Mort, leader of the Penguins. Cohen and Richter are so funny, you'll be tempted to want them to have their own movies, but they're funniest because they aren't on screen as often as Alex, whose whiny purity of heart gets tiresome.

This sequel is a lot easier to take than last summer's overrated "Kung Fu Panda," and just as colorfully animated. It's no classic, but it makes a decent setup for "Madagascar 3," which is already on the drawing board.

"?Doug Bentin

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