PG for mild language, crude
humor and some thematic elements.
May 27, 2005
Comedy, Kids/Family, Animation
The voices of: Andy Richter,
Cedric the Entertainer,
Sacha Baron Cohen, Chris Knights,
Tom McGrath, Ben Stiller,
Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith,
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Dr. Tom Snyder
Madagascar, the new feature-length cartoon from
DreamWorks, is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and it refutes the whole
noble savage philosophy of French intellectual Jean-Jacques Rousseau
by urging its heroic creatures to adopt self-discipline and Judeo-Christian
virtues. Although there is some scatological humor, at its core,
this movie is a morality tale with great messages. And, the messages
Madagascar opens at the Central Park Zoo in New York
City, where the animals live in luxury. They are groomed, personally
trained, and treated like superstars. Alex the lion is the zoo’s
star, posing for adoring fans and being treated nightly to gourmet
steak dinners delivered just the way he likes them. Little does
Alex realize that the steaks he so loves originally come from
other animals. As for the other animals, they are almost equally
spoiled, as every night a troop of chefs serve delicious dishes
catered to each animal’s desires.
Alex’s best friend, Marty the zebra, however, wants to
see the wild. At Marty’s birthday party, Alex, Melman the
giraffe, and Gloria the hippo try to talk Marty out of leaving
the zoo. But, Marty’s wanderlust is inflamed by four brilliant,
prodigious penguins tunneling their way to Antarctica, and Marty
Dreaming of steaks, Alex is rudely awakened by Melman and Gloria
screaming about Marty’s escape. They pursue Marty to Grand
Central Station, where they are surrounded by police along with
a handful of other animals who also escaped the zoo (including
two very funny monkeys).
After being beaten by a little old lady, Alex is sent into a
hallucinogenic state by the drugged darts used to restrain him.
A prototypical animal rights activist reporter informs the world
that the zoo escape clearly indicates these animals should be
returned to their homes in the wild. So, they are crated and sent
off in a ship to Africa. Needless to say, four crates break free
and Alex, Melman, Gloria, and Marty float ashore at Madagascar.
Meanwhile, the penguins commandeer the ship and head off to Antarctica.
the wild, Alex and his friends quickly realize that they preferred
life in the zoo, but, while his friends learn how to eat and forage
vegetables in the forest, Alex starves and starts to hallucinate.
He begins to see his friends as giant steaks.
In their explorations of the island, the four friends discover
a lemur clan. Leading the lemurs is a wacky king who tries to
recruit Alex to protect the lemurs from some dingo-like creatures
called foosa. When Alex realizes that he’s going native
and even tries to bite his best-friend, Alex runs away and imprisons
himself inside a fort to protect his friends.
Eventually, the penguins bring the ship back and the friends
refuse to leave without Alex. Marty is forced to put his life
on the line to rescue Alex, but little do they know that the foosa
are after all of them.
Just imagine a movie that urges people to abandon their savage
and baser instincts to become civilized, careful, thoughtful,
and self-sacrificing. Madagascar is such a movie.
Some moments of this film are hysterically funny. As I was jaded
going into the screening, it took some brilliant and very innovative
humor to get me to start laughing, but once I did I couldn’t
Although like every good movie, there are references to films
that will strike a chord with the audience, there is also a lot
of unique, really fresh humor in Madagascar. Furthermore,
the characters are extremely well developed. The audience gets
to know them, to like them, and to identify with them. Except
for a little intentionality in developing the storyline in the
beginning, the plot moves very fast.
It’s hard to decide which of the characters are most attractive
– the penguins, Alex and his friends, or the monkeys. You
could spin off several movies from Madagascar.
The music is also delightful and is well integrated into the
plot, helping tell part of the story. The animation itself is
fun and often amusing, especially the lemurs.
All that said, Madagascar has some scatological humor,
including references to rear ends, some pratfalls and suggestions
of violence, and some scary scenes when the wild foosa prepare
to attack. One little girl behind us in the press screening did
echo our hero’s call for help at one point, so the movie
probably skews for ages seven and up.
Address Comments To:
David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg
1000 Flower Street
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone: (818) 695-5000
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine.
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