Madagascar (2005)

PG   |    |  Animation, Adventure, Comedy


Madagascar (2005) Poster

A group of animals who have spent all their life in a New York zoo end up in the jungles of Madagascar, and must adjust to living in the wild.

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6.9/10
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7 January 2006 | Benjamin_Cox
6
| More fun than a barrel full of monkeys - 68%
I have to admit that "Madagascar", the latest film from the makers of "Shrek", didn't really appeal to me. From the trailers I'd seen, I thought it looked too kiddie-friendly to me but as my Better Half wanted to watch it, I found myself renting the DVD along with "Team America: World Police". I had already seen the short Christmas film with the penguins and that was very funny and that had made me change my mind a little. But I was pleasantly surprised to find this an unexpectedly witty and genuinely funny family film, although one which doesn't really seem to go anywhere plot-wise.

"Madagascar" begins in New York's Central Zoo where the star attraction is the lion Alex (voiced by Ben Stiller). His best friend is Marty (Chris Rock), a zebra who dreams of one day going back to the wild - much to the chagrin of Alex. So when the pair are apprehended after a daring escape plan, along with Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and a hypochondriac giraffe named Melman (David Schwimmer), the four are soon shipped off on a transfer. But they are accidentally washed overboard and find themselves in a tropical jungle populated by dancing lemurs. But is this a blessing in disguise or will they realise that there is no place like home?

It has to be said that, technically, this is the best looking film that Dreamworks Animation have produced so far. The ocean effects are particularly realistic but the characters maintain a traditional cartoon feel - eyes bulge and necks stretch in typical Tom & Jerry fashion. And despite Schwimmer struggling to escape Ross, the voices are also perfectly cast with Stiller taking top honours. My initial opinion that it was too kiddie-friendly isn't too wide of the mark, however, with a lot of the comedy being slapstick in nature. But there are laughs to be had, such as the wonderfully funny penguins hijacking the ship and trying to reach Antartica. If anything, the ships aren't the only thing the penguins hijack - they are just brilliant and thoroughly deserved their own short film.

Although "Madagascar" is a wonderfully bright colourful family film, I can't honestly say that I'm raving about it. Schwimmer is very disappointing as Melman and I wonder if he will ever escape "Friends" during the rest of his career. The plot itself, although it starts promisingly enough, quickly runs out of steam once they arrive in Madagascar and the lemurs get involved. But there is still plenty to enjoy in this film and it is much better than I was expecting. It won't change the world and it certainly isn't as much fun as "The Incredibles" but "Madagascar" is yet another worthy winner from Dreamworks and another blow to Disney, who will be ruing the day that Pixar went their own way.

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Animation | Adventure | Comedy | Family

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