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MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA

Additional Passengers on Air Penguin
And speaking of self-assured characters who love a laugh—you could even go so far as to say self-centered characters who demand you laugh—who could forget the party-loving leader of the lemurs, Julien?

To hitch along with the departing New Yorkers, Julien informs them that the repaired plane happens to be his (animators didn't care what justification, they just wanted him along!). His actual motivation is to expand his kingdom—and what better place than New York City? Setting foot in Africa, however, he is no less enthusiastic, for now he has an entire land to conquer…but the furthest thing from Julien's mind is any kind of military campaign. He's so fabulous, his mere presence should inspire legions to simply follow—right?

Eric Darnell declares, "Julien is a great character, because of the attitude and the off-kilter point of view that he brings. And who else could do Julien but Sacha Baron Cohen? There's this controlled insanity to what he brings, how he reads the lines and what he adds to the character. No matter what he says, you just can't help but laugh and love him.”

And no king can function without an attendant—and right-hand men don't come any better than the king's own cousin, Maurice. Voiced again with the easygoing baritone of Cedric The Entertainer, the character proves a wonderful counterpoint to the sometimes frantic Julien—making the pair a kind of Laurel and Hardy duo. For reasons only known to himself, Maurice loves Julien, in spite of the king's flaws and out-of-leftfield actions, and is able to put all of Julien's shortcomings aside and be there for his king.

Cedric has his own theory about the relationship between the two: "I think that Maurice is now looking for that validation from the king, something like ‘Hey, man, you know, I appreciate your years of service. You're my main man and here you go.' And at the same time, he's a little comfortable in his position, he likes being next to the man. You're always first in the door whenever you're with the king, you're gonna get first class A treatment. Everybody's gonna do it for ya'. And even though I think this guy's a little bit of a bum sometimes…well, he's my cousin.”

There is no such familial excuse for the behavior visited by the king on his subject, saucer-eyed, mouse lemur Mort, even though the little guy is extremely devoted to Julien…unfortunately, Julien isn't as devoted to Mort. Left off the Air Penguin flight scheduled for New York City (with an extended layover in Africa), the scrappy and tenacious Mort finds his own way to the stranded group—he swims the shark-infested waters of the Mozambique Channel. Andy Richter returns as the voice of Mort, who can miraculously deliver an entire performance in falsetto and remain cute.

Per Richter: "I get my biggest reactions from really little kids, something about his tiny cuteness…and probably the slightly irritating nature of his personality, which also appeals to children. In actuality—not to bite the hand that feeds me—it's among the most absurd ways I've ever made money. To stand in a windowless room, screaming like a little girl and getting paid for it, I mean, I can't really call it a dream come true, because I didn't have the good sense to have that dream. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and dream about this. And then it would be coming true.”

And what would Air Penguin be without penguins? The military quartet emerged from "Madagascar” with a solid fan base, resulting in a short film and an upcoming animated series. Not bad for flightless birds who, in the previous film, longed for Antarctica, only to find the cold not to their liking. Back with the other displaced zoosters in Madagascar, the four have worked their organizational magic, repaired the abandoned plane and now are in charge of piloting it—sadly

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