Film Reviews

MADAGASCAR

By • May 27th, 2007 •

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DreamWorks Animation presents a PDI / DreamWorks production
MPAA rating PG / Running time — 86 minutes

QUOTE: Halfway through, it becomes a really funny adult animation film.

New York’s Central Park Zoo is home to a host of celebrity animals, namely,Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), who has been stripped of all animal passions and lusts. He’s embraced his psychologically castrated self. He’s a brand name performer with a line of toys and household accessories. His infantilized pals include Melman (David Schwimmer), a giraffe who craves vitamins and doctor’s appointments, Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), a no-nonsense hippo, and Marty (Chris Rock), a zebra who yearns for more than being cooped up in a box gawked at by tourists.

But it is the penguins who are the real adventurers here, and they decide to make a break for it and go to Antarctica (where, in full disclosure, I went this past Christmas and New Year’s. Yes, it is cold. And, frankly, an entire continent of penguins smells really bad! However, the icebergs are fantastic.)

Marty decides to hightail it to the wild and free land of Connecticut. Alex, Melman, and Gloria take off to rescue him before he does something silly like forage for his own food. Boarding a train at Grand Central Station, they get caught and sent on a boat to Africa. The ship’s crew, slapped silly by the stowaway penguins, heads for Antarctica instead. Marty, Melman, Alex, and Gloria get shipwrecked and find themselves in Madagascar surrounded by lemurs ruled by King Julien the 13th (Sacha Baron Cohen). Soon, everyone is enjoying themselves but Alex starts looking for something other to eat than coconuts.

And the penguins land in Antarctica.

“This sucks.”

A perfect moment fades to black!

There’s still a lot of love, hugging, and friendship but the writers, Mark Burton and Billy Frolick, give adults, especially movie lovers, enough inside gags to really make MADAGASCAR a fun romp. When was the last time a movie like AMERICAN BEAUTY was satirized in animation? (This moment is for you, Mom and Dad, not your kids.) For once, the true nature of a wild animal is addressed. Thank you Dreamworks. And the songs are well done since Dreamworks certainly can afford to pay the big royalty fees. The only gripe is that the movie is all talk, talk, talk. Nobody shuts up.

I have no doubt that kids are going to love MADAGASCAR. While the animation is more mature – there are close-ups and real emotion up there by Alex and Marty, I did notice that the leaves and trees didn’t always sway in the tropical breeze.

Everyone knows I tired of living in Ben Stiller’s Reel World. God, he must be jealous of all the press Paris Hilton gets! Stiller hasn’t cracked the amateur porn market yet, but I know it is in the works. I heard a rumor he’s starting a singing career since he’s free on some weekends. If I must, I’d rather hear Schwimmer than see him act. But that’s just me. Cohen is the most fun and, well, if Stiller is starring in your movie, you are only allotted a few minutes to do your thing. Cohen takes his scenes and runs fast. King Julien was robbed of his Oscar moment! Damn you, Ben Stiller!


Voices:
Alex: Ben Stiller
Marty: Chris Rock
Melman: David Schwimmer
Gloria: Jada Pinkett Smith
Julien: Sacha Baron Cohen
Maurice: Cedric the Entertainer
Mort: Andy Richter

Credits:
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Producer: Mireille Soria
Screenwriters: Mark Burton & Billy Frolick and Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath
Production designer: Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin
Editor: H. Lee Peterson
Music: Hans Zimmer.

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