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We like to move it, move it

    Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo are back — still lost, but still together — in “Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa.” The latest animated comedy by Dreamworks features many hilarious jokes that break out of the cheesy punch lines usually found in animated comedies.
    The film begins directly where we last saw Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) — stranded on the island of Madagascar with party-happy lemurs. The penguins have finally restored a plane that will bring our favorite castaways back to New York, with King Julian the lemur (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his sidekick (Cedric the Entertainer) joining the castaways to explore a foreign land. 
            However, the plane crash-lands in Africa where Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria encounter animals of their own kind. These hilarious encounters feature plots for each of the castaways in which each discovers the answers to the questions they sought in the first “Madagascar” film.
            Meanwhile, the penguins work to repair the destroyed plane with the chimps — which they refer to as their “thumbs.” The penguins partake in their usual hilarious military shenanigans throughout the repair process, stealing jeep parts from a safari caravan and interjecting “69” jokes in a couple scenes. They even debate labor laws with the chimps, comically alluding to the labor problems of today. 
            The film — directed by Eric Darnall and Tom McGrath, who provides the voice of Skipper the head penguin — takes on a Lion King-like theme with alpha-lions battling for power. The film also gives the audience a good look into Alex’s background, explaining his flair for performance and how he got to the New York Zoo.
            The upbeat dance mix “Move It!” that made the first “Madagascar” soundtrack a favorite is back for part two as a catchy remixed version.
            The already A-list cast takes on more A-listers, with the late Bernie Mac voicing Zuba the alpha lion, Alec Baldwin voicing Zuba’s rival Makunga and Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas as the hilarous hippo-Casanova Moto Moto.
            The film instills the usual themes of family values, friendship and love through the stories of Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria, but the penguin and chimp shenanigans provide for excellent comic relief throughout.
         “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” delivers on many aspects — animation, storyline, cast and jokes — and can be considered as one of the few sequels that are better than the original. 
        A “Madagascar 3” is currently in the works and will be released in 2011.
 
Stars 3.5
Summary: After crash-landing in Africa on the way to New York, Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman encounter animals of their own kind and discover the answers to their most pressing questions.
Our Take: A hilarious sequel that is better than the original. 

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