Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a 2008 American computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. It is the second installment in the franchise, following Madagascar (2005). It was directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, with a screenplay written by Etan Cohen, Darnell, and McGrath, and features Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Elisa Gabrielli, McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, and Conrad Vernon reprising their voice acting roles from the first film, joined by new cast members Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Sherri Shepherd, and will.i.am, while John DiMaggio also joins the cast as the new voice of Rico. In the film, the main characters—a party of animals from the Central Park Zoo whose adventures have taken them to Madagascar—find themselves in Africa, where they meet others of their species and where Alex the lion reunites with his parents.
Released November 7, 2008, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa grossed $603.9 million on a $150 million budget, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of 2008. Two sequels were released, worldwide, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted in 2012 and Madagascar: South American Getaway in 2019.
As a cub, Alex the lion was called Alakay and was the son of Zuba, the alpha lion. Though Zuba tries to teach Alakay to be a hunter, the cub is more interested in dancing. When another lion named Makunga challenges Zuba to a fight for the position of alpha lion, Alakay is captured by poachers. Though Zuba tries to rescue his son, Alakay is forced into a crate. The poachers shoot Zuba in the ear, but Zuba does not die. The crate falls into the ocean where it drifts to New York. There, Alakay is having a new name, Alex and sent to the Central Park Zoo where he grew up, meeting Gloria, Marty, and Melman.
In the present time, Alex, Gloria, Melman, Marty, King Julien, Maurice, Mort, Skipper, his fellow penguins and the chimpanzees board a repaired airplane in the hopes of using it to fly back to New York. Though the plane does fly, it ends up crash-landing in Africa because of lack of fuel. In Africa, the animals are amazed to find more of their kind. Alex is re united with Zuba and his mother. Marty quickly fits into a herd of zebra who all look, sound, and talk exactly like him. Melman takes on the position of witch doctor amongst the animals. Gloria, interested in finding a mate, attracts the attention of a smooth-talking but shallow hippo named Moto Moto.
Meanwhile, the penguins set about repairing the plane. They carjack several jeeps from New Yorkers on vacation, leaving the tourists stranded and lost in the jungle. A tough old woman called "Nana" takes charge, reminding them that they are New Yorkers and always survive.
The next morning Mort washes up on the shore of Africa and sets off to find King Julien, only to be chased by a shark.
Unfortunately, life in Africa is not as wonderful as it first seems. Makunga still determined to take the position of alpha lion, reminds Zuba that Alex must complete a traditional lion coming-of-age challenge. Alex, thinking that the challenge is a dance contest (it is actually a fight), competes against the strongest lion (who was recommended by Makunga) and loses quickly. To avoid being forced to banish Alex for failing, Zuba abdicates, and Makunga immediately takes the position and banishes Alex and his family. Marty, meanwhile, begins to feel upset that all of the zebras are exactly the same as him, leaving him with nothing unique. Melman is happy as a witch doctor until he learns that he has the same spot that had apparently caused the previous witch doctor to die. Melman is also upset 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 body.
The next day, the animals panic when they discover that the watering hole has dried up. Determined to make up for his earlier failure, Alex and Marty decides to risk being shot by hunters and leave the reserve to discover what happened. The pair discover that the stranded New Yorkers, under the instruction of Nana, have dammed the river and built a primitive civilization. Unfortunately, Alex is captured, and Marty runs for help. Meanwhile, Zuba hears what Alex did and goes to rescue him.
King Julien suggests that the animals sacrifice one of themselves into the volcano to appease the water gods and regain their water supply. Believing that he will die soon, Melman volunteers to be sacrificed. Gloria stops him just in time and Marty arrives to tell them of Alex's fate. The trio, the penguins, and several chimpanzees use the newly-fixed plane to come to the rescue. Alex meanwhile manages to rescue both himself and his father by dancing for the New Yorkers, who quickly recognize him from the zoo. The other animals rescue the lions with the plane and destroy the dam, freeing the water. Alex manages to remove Makunga from power by tricking Nana into attacking him, she kicks him in the tummy, she steps on his toes, she hits his palm with a ruler, she sucks on her finger and puts it in his ear, she rubs his forearm hard, and slaps his right butt cheek, and she drags him by his ear back to the other marooned tourists. Skipper marries a bobble-head hula doll from the plane and leaves for Monte Carlo, leaving the other animals to remain in Africa, thus taking stage for Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
- Ben Stiller as Alex the lion
- Quinn Dempsey Stiller, Ben Stiller's son, as baby Alex
- Declan Swift as young Alex
- Chris Rock as Marty the zebra, as well as the other zebras in the herd
- Thomas Stanley as young Marty
- David Schwimmer as Melman the giraffe
- Zachary Gordon as young Melman
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria the hippopotamus
- Willow Smith as young Gloria
- Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII the ring-tailed lemur. Danny Jacobs voiced the character in the Australian version of the film.
- Cedric the Entertainer as Maurice the aye-aye
- Andy Richter as Mort the Goodman's mouse lemur
- Will Smith as Zuba, Alex's father and the alpha lion. Bernie Mac was considered for the voice of Zuba. but died after the film's production began.
- Sherri Shepherd as Florrie (credited as "Mom"), Alex's mother and Zuba's mate, her name "Florrie" isn't mentioned in the film
- Alec Baldwin as Makunga the lion
- Elisa Gabrielli as Nana
- will.i.am as Moto Moto the hippopotamus
- Tom McGrath as Skipper the penguin
- Chris Miller as Kowalski the penguin
- Christopher Knights as Private the penguin
- John DiMaggio as Rico the penguin
- Conrad Vernon as Mason the chimpanzee (Phil, the other main chimpanzee, is unvoiced)
- Fred Tatasciore as Teetsi the lion and as one of the poachers who captures Alakay
- Eric Darnell as Joe the giraffe and as one of the poachers who captures Alakay
- Al Roker as a newscaster
- Phil LaMarr as Safari Tour Guide
- Stephen Kearin as Stephen the giraffe, as a rhinoceros, and as one of the New Yorkers
- Danny Jacobs as one of the New Yorkers
- Dan O'Connor as a buffalo and as one of the New Yorkers
- Stacy Ferguson as a female hippopotamus
- Harland Williams as a giraffe
- Bridget Hoffman as one of the New Yorkers
- David P. Smith as Bobby the dik-dik and Additional lemurs.
A sequel to Madagascar had been in development since 2005, when the first film had been released, with a release date planned for late 2008. In the first teaser trailer, which was released in March 2008, the film was subtitled with The Crate Escape. By June 2008, the film was given its final title – Escape 2 Africa.
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 64% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.9/10, based on 157 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an improvement on the original, with more fleshed-out characters, crisper animation and more consistent humor." Another review aggregator, Metacritic classified the film into the "generally favorable reviews" category with 61/100 approval rating based on 25 reviews, also a bit higher a score than the original.
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune stated in his review that the film "goes easy on the pop culture jokes, I should clarify: one of the smarter things in the script is how Alex, who digs his Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins dance moves, becomes the film's primary pop-cult gag." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3/4 stars and wrote "This is a brighter, more engaging film than the original Madagascar. John Anderson of Newsday gave the film 3.5/4 stars and stated "Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa, the sequel to the enormously successful DreamWorks adventure and a film that hews close to the whole Lion King/species-as-destiny/self-fulfillment paradigm." Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote: "The roots are shallow, but the sequel is good-natured, high-spirited and perfectly enjoyable if you take it for what it is." Jim Schembri of The Age gave the film 3.5/5 stars, describing it as a "hugely entertaining, lightning-fast, ceaselessly funny follow-up to the adorable 2005 animated hit", and deemed it one of the best animated films of 2008. Kelly Jane Torrance of The Washington Times gave the film 3/5 stars, writing that it "might not offer audiences cutting-edge animation or a particularly original story", but added: "It still has a lot going for it, though: foot-tapping music, laughs for young and old and the prodigious talents of Sacha Baron Cohen."
Shubra Gupta of The Indian Express wrote that the film was "as spunky, witty and funny" as its predecessor, and praised the animation and characters, but criticized the story for "[taking] the same course as The Lion King, with a detour towards Shrek thrown in." Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film 2/4 stars and wrote: "Take the flat tire that was Madagascar. Retread it with The Lion King storyline. Pump it up with air. Now you have Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 2/5 stars, describing it as "a frankly disappointing piece of opportunism, with a non-plot which shamelessly rips off The Lion King." Anthony Quinn of The Independent also gave the film 2/5 stars, writing: "The visual invention and draughtsmanship are mightily impressive; a shame the drama's a bit of a bore."