The five-year-old didn't laugh as much as his 40-year-old father, which, granted, isn't the basis upon which to conclude too much. Then again, most of the adults at a Saturday-morning sneak preview of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa were clearly having a better time than the wee ones, which should be expected from a film proffering Charles Darwin wisecracks, class-warfare one-liners, smoky backroom union brokering (including a monkey subbing a spark plug for a lit cigarette), and Alec Baldwin reprising his every last dick-boss role as an alpha lion with a shellacked, gray-streaked mane. The kid adored all heck out of the first movie, which, like its subversive sequel, featured the voices of Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, and Chris Rock; he didn't have much to say about the second one, save for his fondness for the gag about the crashing plane and the penguins, the latter of whom emerged as the acting-out favorites among the pre-K crowd. Alas, a sad note as Stiller's Alex is reunited with his parents in Africa — the dad is played by Bernie Mac, whose performance ranks among his richest. On a happier note: Sacha Baron Cohen's King Julien has an expanded role, while Rock's zebra, who isn't as special as he thinks, provides a kids' movie with a thoughtful moral about fitting in and standing out. Funniest movie of '08? Close enough, for those who don't mind monkeying around.
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