Buy This Film
2005
Rated: PG for some suggestive material.
Genre: Kids/Family Animated Comedy Adventure
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Running Time: 1:26
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 11/15/05
DVD Features:
All New "I Like To Move It, Move It" Music Video!
Hear the very first-ever Penguin Commentary as they give you their unique take on their role in the film!
Escape with untamed games and jungle activities for the whole family!
Get the inside scoop with:
 - "Behind the Crates"
 - "The Tech of Madagascar"
 - "Mad Mishaps"
Help the Penguins "Crack the Code" for a special surprise!
Plus, more wild entertainment featuring your Madagascar friends!
Bonus A Christmas Caper Penguins Feature
If you like this, try: Ice Age, We're Back! A Dinosaur Tale, Oliver & Company, Homeward Bound, Shrek, Shark Tale, Finding Nemo, Lion King

Click here to buy posters!

MADAGASCAR

 


"Just smile and wave, boys; Smile and wave." - The Penguins (Repeated Line)

With duds touted to audiences all over the place like "Shark Tale", "Shrek 2", and--of course--"Home on the Range", it's hard to believe that someone finally released an animated comedy that has star power but is also very funny. I'm a big fan of animation, whatever it may be, and I love cartoons--especially Looney Tunes, you just can't beat it. I defy
you to find funnier people than Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones et al. Back then, cartoons didn't just appeal to children, they also appealed to adults without teetering over to presiding edges of audience appeal. You can still watch Looney Tunes without feeling embarrassed. Either way, "Madagascar" in all it's unabashed goofiness is very much in the
tradition of Looney Tunes and Termite Terrace.

With some brutally funny animation courtesy of Dreamworks, we're introduced to four animal friends who were born and raised in the Central Park zoo and have grown accustomed to the safe albeit artificial existence within the confines of the wilderness aesthetic. One of the many clever little extras and in-jokes within the film, is that the animators always make a point of showing the audience that they're in an artificial world that they're perfectly comfortable in. You can always see New York city skyscrapers in the background no matter where in the zoo they are, every single aspect of the zoo is artificial (even with a payphone adjacent to one of their cages), and instead of animals you always hear sounds coming from the street. What's clever about it is the animators make it subtle and never pound the joke over our heads. And in line with the "Shrek" precedent for animated comedies there are always pop culture references that adults will surely love, and I found utterly funny.

There are an assortment of hilarious homage's to American Beauty, Planet of the Apes, National Geographic, Charlie Chaplin, Cast Away, and Saturday Night Fever just to name a meager few. Placing these animals within the confines of civilization make for the most hilarious gags, because it shows how far "progression" has overlapped the wilderness, and how these animals have adapted in a rather defunct manner. And "Madagascar" is never afraid to be wacky or goofy. One of my many complaints about animated features of late is that the animators strive to show how realistic they can make the characters look, but it's animation. Animation is not supposed to look realistic, it's supposed to look unrealistic hence the term "animation". Eyebrows, opposable thumbs, walking upright, and lips. All on animals. This what made animation, yet the "computer engineers" in studios want to show off the technology, but in the fold the showmanship the finishing product loses the heart.

"Madagascar" is not afraid to be ridiculous, and the imagery is just fun. Characters make quick dashes, they mole through the ground, and they're just outrageous. Meanwhile, what helps is the very good voice work courtesy of the great cast here. The seminal cast performs some very fluid voice acting from Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett, David Schwimmer and Ben Stiller, respectively. Stiller is hilarious as the hyperactive Alex, the lion, as well as Schwimmer who is great as Melman the hypochondriac giraffe. The four characters are great here and they'll really lead the kids in with their goofy traits and human personalities. There are also some great supporting performances from Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, and the naturally comedic voice work from Sasha Baron Cohen aka Ali G as Julian the (self-appointed) Lemur king. "Madagascar" is a lot of fun with material both adults and kids will enjoy, as I did.

One caveat with "Madagascar" that may affect the way the audience will watch is during the second half when it becomes kind of morbid once they hit the jungle, and animal instincts take over. Alex, especially. Alex becomes the main focus of the film once he begins becoming hungry and looks at his friends with quite the cravings that he's having a
harder and harder time ignoring as the days pass. For the story it's a progressive and daring turn that they confront as gracefully as possible, but it becomes much too menacing for kids to sit through, cue the inevitable questioning from them that will bring the cartoon to reality as the death of Bambi's mother did in the past. It's a very awkward plot element that's bold but too upfront for children to take lightly.

With the latest trend of high budget, low quality, high on star power, low on laughs animated comedies, it's a welcome change to see a film that not only pays pure homage with a story in the spirit of Looney Tunes, but it's a welcome change to see an animated comedy that's actually funny. Not only because of the stars, but because of the great writing and very funny animation that's unashamed to be goofy.

  • None of the main character animals (lion, zebra, giraffe or hippo) are actually housed at the Central Park Zoo. There are penguins.
  • The look of the jungles in Madagascar is based on the paintings of Henri Rousseau.

 

 

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