I took my three year old daughter with me to see “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”. She sat through the whole thing without fidgeting, so that’s a ringing endorsement from the three year old set. Me, however, I was fidgeting a bit. “Madagascar 2” is about Ben Stiller’s character, Alex, a gay dancing lion who unexpectedly reunites with his family in Africa after trying to escape from Madagascar. Let’s just say the plot is a mix of rip-offs of “The Lion King” and… “Billy Elliot” I guess. What was interesting was that “Madagascar 2” showed exactly what animated movies do right and what they do wrong in the same movie. Mainly the casting will bore you to tears. The most interesting animated characters are actual characters. Here we just get Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and David Schwimmer doing their tired shticks but as animals. Boring, unless of course you’re under twelve. The supporting characters, from the mechanically inclined special ops penguins to Sacha Cohen’s loony lemur king Julian steal the show, and are actually characters created for a movie. Not animated celebrities. This is what the movie does correctly. You’re actually sad when they main characters come back on screen because you know what they’re going to say and do, even as animals. Ben Stiller’s going to be neurotic, David Schwimmer’s a shy hypochondriac who has trouble expressing his feelings, etc. It just doesn’t work. Imagine if Wall-E was voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. You would be bored in two seconds and then maybe even hang yourself. Also, I don’t understand why there were so many gratuitous animal ass shots. There were quite a few leathery, wiggling asses. At one point I thought I was watching “Batman IV”. Remember, this is all about marketing. A creative marketing ploy that caught me off guard was when I saw a few X-Boxes in the movie lobby. Kids could play the “Madagascar” game for free! And then bug their parents to buy it for them! How insidiously genius! Remember, it’s multiplatform branding first, content second. The first lesson of the school of Disney. “Madagascar 2” is kinetic, crisp and colorful. If you’re a child, you’re going to love this movie. If you have the mind of a child, you’ll love this movie. If you are an adult you’ll feel like you’ve seen it all before, which you have. As amusing as carjacking penguins are, and I have to say, they were pretty amusing, you’ll still feel like there was a real missed opportunity here to at least try for a little Pixar magic.