Pros:funny in parts, family film
Cons:not too impressive, few original story points
The Bottom Line: A recommended family film, but I don't think it holds a candle to other Dreamworks pictures.
Dreamworks has produced another mega box office hit with the film Madagascar. Taking the approach of using animals to carry a story is nothing new though, and even though the movie made a ton of money, I don't think that it stands out above anything they have made in the past. Madagascar is the story of a set of zoo animals that live in Central Park (New York). They go about their daily routines; eating, sleeping, and putting on a show for the people that come to visit. It seems to be a pretty packed life, and nearly all of the animals enjoy this habitat where they live. That is except for a group of penguins and a zebra. That zebra feels that there has to be more to life than a small pen in a huge city, and he longs for nothing more than to run free in open pastures. This is despite all of his friends trying to convince him that he has everything he could possibly need right there in the zoo. His need for something more is what will lead the rest of the film.
Recommend this product?
Bringing the voice of Marty the zebra is Chris Rock, and he does a really good job at providing an interesting take on what a zebra's daily life is like. Making up his group of friends, we have Ben Stiller as Alex the lion, David Schwimmer as Melman the giraffe, and Jada Pinkett-Smith as Gloria the hippo. There haven't been many films involving these types of animals, and in that regards, the film does a good job of being original in those presentations. Each of the characters have their own quirks, including Melman being a victim of nearly any illness he can think of (in his own mind). Marty dreams of being able to leave the zoo, but hasn't taken any steps to accomplishing this himself. One day though, the 4 penguins decide it is time to make their own escape, and Marty jumps at the chance to get back to the wild. This of course leaves his friends behind to wonder what has happened to him, and of course they decide they much go after him to show him what he has done wrong.
This sends all of the animals on a journey that leads them to the country of Madagascar and adventures as they come across dozens of things that they have never seen before. Without having their meals prepared for them, having to find their own shelters, and not knowing what is around the next corner (or behind the next bush) are all events that they have to deal in their new lives. But, it isn't going to be the easiest of things to do, since they don't even know where to begin. Many other animals cross paths with the main characters, and of course some of them are bad while others are good. There are some funny moments when they interact with a tribe of lemurs, and it is also fun to watch a lion that has been tamed get his first chance at being out in the wild. Unfortunately they don't all possess the skills they need to survive in the wild, and they must develop them as they go.
Madagascar is a funny film at parts, and there are a few original story points that make it worth viewing that first time. Other than that though, I think there are some parts where the film just fell flat for me. I have become used to a certain brand of humor from Dreamworks films, and some of that humor is in the movie, but in the end it ended up seeming like it was geared to a much younger audience than my own. Because of that, I ended up not liking some of the characters, particularly the one played by David Schwimmer. At the end of the film it ended up seeming like just another cartoon, and not really one that I would want to see again. On the DVD, there are several games that you can play, one of which involves the penguins escaping and taking over a large ship. The penguins were a highlight of the film, and I was glad to see they were put into the extras. Also, the DVD contains outtakes that were somewhat humorous, as well as some commentary clips. The DVD would be worth buying if it were intended for children, but I don't really recommend the movie for much more than that. Average on the whole, Madagascar failed to impress me, but it did have a few funny moments that could be worth seeing once. I give this film 2 out of 5 stars.