Madagascar (DVD, 2005, Widescreen)
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Lions, Giraffes, and Penguins, Oh My! - Madagascar
May 27, 2005 (Updated May 28, 2005)
Review by Michelle Chelledun
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Visually impressive, fun characters, some really fun jokes and visual gags
Cons:Anti-climatic toward the end, may frighten small children
The Bottom Line: I liked it a lot, but it wasn't quite a five-star compared to some of Pixar's other films.
I was able to see Madagascar tonight, after anxiously awaiting its release ever since I saw the first preview with adorable animals. As a result, I had enormously high expectations going in. While the film wasnt quite as amazing as I hoped, it does offer some memorable moments and adorable characters.
Recommend this product?
The movie centers around the adventures of a group of animals living in Central Park Zoo in New York City. There are four main animal characters with quite distinct personalities. Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) is a born performer and enjoys his role as the king of the zoo. Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a hippo with a lot of attitude. Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) is a hypochondriac, constantly discussing his illnesses and seeking medical treatment. Finally, Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) is a spunky zebra who develops a mid-life crisis as a result of celebrating his tenth birthday.
Although life is enjoyable at the zoo, Marty the Zebra wants to experience life in the wild. Inspired by the crazy penguins attempt at escape, Marty decides to take a journey to the wild via Grand Central Station. His loyal friends follow him, and as one can guess this adventure is not well-received by the public. The animals are sent back to the wild on a large ship, and a series of unfortunate events places the four main characters in the jungles of Madagascar.
Once in Madagascar, the friends struggle to survive in the wild and encounter a wide variety of interesting characters. Alex in particular must fight a battle between giving in to his natural instincts and staying true to his friends.
The concept of this movie is a fun one, which allows for lots of interesting characters and jokes. I love the adorable penguins, who rely on their cute and cuddly appearance to get them out of trouble on more than one occasion. The group encounters a hilarious tribe of lemurs in Madagascar, which amused me because whenever I visit the zoo I always comment on how many lemurs there are. Of the main characters, Melman was my favorite. David Schwimmer did a great job of voicing a hypochondriac giraffe without letting the joke get old. The concept of an animal that hates nature and the wild was a really good gag. I was also quite impressed with Jada Pinkett, she managed to convey quite a lot of personality into that big old hippo.
I laughed a lot during this movie, although some of the jokes kind of made me embarrassed I laughed at them. For example, there are monkey poo jokes, but they are pulled off in a dignified way (as much as monkey poo can be dignified). There are a lot of visual gags that are just hilarious, such as when Gloria the hippo jumps up onto Melmans head to try to flag down an approaching ship. This movie has non-stop action and I think I will have to watch it again to be able to catch everything.
Visually, the film is awesome which comes as no surprise. The animals dont seem like real animals, of course, but they do seem to leap off the screen. I loved the footage of the bright, lush jungles of Madagasacar. The animation quality is definitely right up there with Finding Nemo.
The Not So Good
Unfortunately, this movie just wasnt quite as good as I hoped. There were a lot of great things about it, but they just didnt come together as well as they might have. The actual plot wraps up kind of weakly. The major drama at the end of the movie really comes down to whether Alex is going to eat his friends or not. I dont expect major thrills from a kids movie, but found the last 1/3 of the film somewhat anticlimactic.
I think some of the movies themes got a little old for me too. It seemed like Alex and Marty were fighting, making up, fighting, making up. Some of the lemurs jokes got a little tired too.
Suitability for Kids
As far as suitability for children goes, I think small children might be frightened at some parts, particularly when Alex starts to become wilder as the film goes on. However, the intensity is definitely less than a film such as The Lion King. I saw one or two kids cry and be taken out of the theater, but they were particularly young. There are a couple scenes that probably could have been left out of a childrens film, as I didnt particularly think they added anything. For example, at one point Alex constructs a help signal and branches drop off so it spells hell. At another point, an old lady kicks Alex in his crotch repeatedly. Nothing is terribly offensive, but these things might just raise some questions parents would rather not deal with.
This wasnt a perfect film, and I dont think it is even close to some my favorite DreamWorks animated movies over the last couple years. Both Shrek movies, for example, were amazing and offered better story lines than this film. However, it did make me laugh, had memorable characters, and was visually impressive. All things considered, Madagascar was an above average film that I will see again on video.
This film is 80 minutes long and rated PG.
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