Madagascar & Escape 2 Africa

For a long time I didn’t like the animated movies that Hollywood put out with regularity and even refused to watch most of them. That changed with the first Ice Age movie and I actually feel that a lot of the animated movies are really good and we get some awesome voice work from the actors. Among the best IMHO are the Madagascar movies.

Featuring the voices of Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkette, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer & Sash Baron Cohen, Madagascar sees four best friends – Alex the lion, Gloria the hippo, Marty the zebra & Melman the hypochondriac giraffe – and inmates of the NYC zoo where Alex is the star attraction. When Marty, who yearns for the wide open plains & jungles of Africa, finds out that a group of penguins plan to break out of the zoo, he also decides to go. His friends don’t take his desires too seriously but find out that he has escaped. The four, along with the penguins and the chimpanzees eventually find themselves at Grand Central Station, but are quickly sedated by tranquilizer darts by the authorities. The zoo is pressurized to ship the animals to a Kenyan reserve but during he journey, the penguins escape from their enclosure and take over the ship, intent on taking it to Antarctica. Their antics on the bridge cause the crates containing Alex, Marty, Melmen, and Gloria to fall off the boat and wash ashore on Madagascar.

Once on land and reunited the four friends try to find out where they are and run into a village of lemurs led by King Julien (Baron in a hilarious Indianized accent) and are taken to be giants from New York an hailed as the NY Giants as they scared away a pack of hungry fossa who prey on the lemurs. Alex however blames Marty, who seems to be happy & settling in, and moves away from the rest when his hunger for meat and his natural predatory instincts kick in. While initially Alex scares the fossa away and is worshiped by the lemurs, he later falls under his instincts and attacks Marty. Alex barricades himself to avoid killing his friends. Meanwhile the penguins have landed the boat on the same shore and Marty goes to bring Alex back. The penguins, Gloria and Melman go to find Marty, but are trapped by the fossa. At the last minute Alex recovers and chase the fossa away for good. The lemurs regain their respect for Alex and the penguins help him satisfy his hunger through sushi instead of steak. As the lemurs throw a bon voyage celebration for the foursome, the penguins decide not to break the news that the ship has run out of fuel and that they are still stuck on the island.

Hilariously funny especially the highlight of the movie, King Julien leading the rest in a song & dance of I like to move it (in that Indian accent). True genius!

Escape 2 Africa starts off where the first one ended. Released three years later, we discover Alex’s origins as the cub of Zuba, the alpha lion of a big pride. Alex was captured by poachers when Zuba was being challenged by his rival Makunga. Alex and sent to the Central Park Zoo where he grew up, meeting Marty, Melman and Gloria. So now in the present the four friends with the penguins & the chimps and Julien, Maurice & Mort board a repaired airplane to fly back to New York. The plane however crashes in continental Africa where they see more of their kind in a large herd. Alex is reunited with his parents while Marty fits in with a herd of zebra who all look and sound exactly like him. Hypochondriac Melman becomes a witch doctor. Gloria, attracts the attention of a smooth-talking hippo named Moto Moto.

The penguins try to repair the plane and carjack several jeeps leaving tourists stranded in the jungle. Makunga, still determined to take the position of alpha lion, reminds Zuba that Alex must complete a traditional coming-of-age fight challenge that he did not complete. Alex thinks it is a dance contest competes against the strongest lion, Teetsi and loses quickly. Zuba relinquinches his crown to Makunga to avoid banishing his own son but father, son & mother are still banished.  Marty, meanwhile, begins to feel upset because there is nothing unique about him. Melman is happy until he learns that he has the same symptoms that apparently caused the previous witch doctor to die. Melman is also forlorn about Gloria dating Moto Moto, as Melman has secretly loved her for a long time. Gloria goes on a date with Moto Moto and quickly realizes that he only loves her for her large body.

When the waterhole dries up because the stranded tourists dammed the river Back on the reserve, King Julien suggests that the animals offer a sacrifice in the volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro, to appease the water gods. Believing that he will die soon, Melman volunteers to be sacrificed. Gloria stops him just in time and Marty arrives to tell them about Alex. The trio, the penguins, and several chimpanzees use the newly-fixed plane to execute a rescue. Alex & his father distract the humans and they are picked up by the plane and together they all destroy the dam, freeing the water. A shark that chases Mort falls into the volcano by accident making a sacrifice causing King Julien to think that he brought back the water. Alex manages to remove Makunga from power by tricking Nana into attacking him. Zuba gives the alpha position to Alex, but Alex refuses, resulting in both father and son becoming co-leaders. The movie ends as Skipper marries a bobble-head hula doll from the plane and leaves on a honeymoon in Monte Carlo with the chimpanzees, and a huge tub of diamonds and gold, leaving Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria and The Lemurs to happily remain in Africa with Alex’s parents.

Both funny and good to watch several times. I’d give Madagascar a 9.5 outta 10 and the sequel an 8.

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