Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review

Madagascar

MPAA Rating: PG for mild language, crude humor and some thematic elements

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Animation Comedy Kids Family
Length:
1 hr. 20 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
May 27, 2005
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG

Relevant Issues
Copyright, Dreamworks SKG

Review of the sequel to this film: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)

click for Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to childrens’ questions, color pages, and more! A popular Christian education and evangelism resource.
The Rainforest: People, Animals and Facts
Learn about the rainforest by meeting some native peoples, seeing where and how they live, and more! A cross-cultural photo-rich journey that will leave you with a lasting impression.
Featuring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer
Director: Eric Darnell (Antz—1998), Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2—2004)
Producer: Mireille Soria, Karey Kirkpatrick
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG

Someone’s got a zoo loose

I had the privilege of spending a few days in New York City a couple of weeks ago with my sister and some friends, and one of the things we absolutely had to do, of course, was visit Central Park. My sister had little places in the park she wanted to visit because she had either heard about them, or had seen them in movies, so we did the touristy thing and wandered for hours. There was only one thing I wanted to do while in the park, and that was visit the famed Central Park Zoo. While my sister thought this would take precious time away from seeing some of her sights, she reluctantly agreed.

Now, I didn’t know a whole lot about the zoo, but I figured it would at least have your normal zoo animals: Lions, giraffes, zebras etc. So, I was somewhat disappointed when we got to the zoo’s entrance and checked the layout of the zoo only to find that it contained a few select animals, none of which I was all that interested in paying the admission price to see. So, we decided to skip the zoo, which nonetheless made me a little sad.

But, it appears I have gotten my wish, at least in movie form, from the new animated feature “Madagascar.” It is about four Central Park Zoo animals who put on the shows, day in and day out for the adoring patrons. Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith) are all friends who love making the zoo’s visitors happy with their daily acts.

Their world seems calm and peaceful until Marty’s tenth birthday rolls around. Marty feels that he is wasting his life, cooped up in the zoo, when he was meant to be roaming the wild. His friends feel quite the opposite, thinking they have it made where they are at. One night, Marty escapes from the zoo, and wanders downtown New York in search of Grand Central Station, so that he can catch the train to Connecticut (He heard Connecticut has plenty of space for an animal to roam wild).

His friends discover that he is missing, and head off to the station to get him and bring him back to the zoo. While just about anything can and usually does happen in New York City at night, the presence of a lion, giraffe, and hippo roaming the street and riding the rails causes a bit of panic. They arrive at the station and find their friend, but then what seems like the entire squads of the NYPD, NYFD, and one animal control guy show up to get the animals back where they belong.

Instead of sending the animals home to the zoo, they are shipped away on a boat headed for an animal preserve in Africa. Some rough seas shake their crates off the boat, and the four friends wind up washing ashore on a tropical island. The animals believe they have been shipped to the San Diego Zoo, and set off searching for the nearest human, so they can get sent back home. Instead, they find a pack of partying lemurs who adopt the four animals as their protectors against the dangerous hyenas that patrol the jungle.

“Madagascar” contains some mild content typical of the new PG animated genre. There are a few mildly crude jokes (Marty unknowingly using a rectal thermometer in his mouth, Alex dreaming about steak and waking up to find himself biting Marty’s butt, Monkeys throwing “poo.”). The jokes aren’t too bad, not as crude as “Shrek” at least. There is no language per se, but a penguin uses the exclamation “Hoover Dam” once when he gets upset. Also, when they are on the island, Alex builds a large HELP sign out of tree trunks, and part of the P falls off spelling HELL. Other than that, smaller children may get a little frightened near the end when the need for meat makes Alex begin hunting his friends, although he is trying to fight his natural urges to kill so that he won’t hurt his friends.

Lastly, the lemurs conduct their meetings in a plane that previously crashed into the jungle trees, and we see a few skeletons in the plane, and one in the tree. Parents should, as always, view the film to see if it is right for their children, but other than what was stated, I didn’t notice a whole lot that would give parents cause for concern.

“Madagascar” made me laugh quite a bit, which I wasn’t really expecting from this particular animated film. I suspect that parents may enjoy it just as much as their children, and they are more than likely to get some of the inside jokes that will go way over the kid’s heads (Alex dreaming about falling steaks as he rolls around, in a scene reminiscent of the rose scene in “American Beauty,” although not at all raunchy.) And, what would an animated film be without a little moral lesson; “Madagascar” teaches children the importance of friendship.

Running 80 minutes and rated PG for “mild language, crude humor, and some thematic elements,” “Madagascar” is a laugh-out-loud film that I highly recommend.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I took my three kids (ages 7, 5, and 4) to see this movie, and was very pleased. I laughed as much as the kids did. The “HELP” sign turning into a “HELL” sign was the only thing that I did not appreciate, although, it was really funny. My 7-yr-old reads everything that he sees (out loud), and I had to quickly tell him not to read that.

There were a couple of times that the filmmakers could easily have thrown in curse words, but milder forms were used (“heck” etc). I was glad for that. The animation was beautiful, and the music was fun. It would be nice if more families would go support this movie in order to show Hollywood that we want more of this “clean” kind of film.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Stephanie, age 30
Positive—I went to this with my 4 and 6 year old girls,we had fun and laughed a lot. I thought it was very entertaining, but it`s very short and has some adult jokes,other then that it was a good movie for the whole family.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Troy Hagen, age 34
Positive—I went to this with my 4 and 6 year old girls; we had fun and laughed a lot. I thought it was very entertaining, but it`s very short and has some adult jokes; other then that it was a good movie for the whole family.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Troy Hagen, age 34
Positive—I took my four sons, ages 6, 9, 11 and 13 to see this movie, and we all enjoyed it. While I was a little concerned that my 13 yr. old wouldn’t be as impressed with the movie, he laughed as much or more than the rest of us. The movie has many laugh out loud parts and only a couple slightly objectionable parts, such as the use of the word “sucks” one time and reference to squirrels’ nuts… I don’t usually like cartoons but found this movie to be very enjoyable. I would recommend it for families.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4½
—R. Smotherman., age 32
Positive—There is one place where a curse word is spelled out on the screen but other than that this is a great movie and a must see for all
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Daniel, age 20
Positive—This movie is a blast! My wife and I watched this movie with our 22-year old daughter, and we laughed nearly the whole time. While there are a few off-color remarks and periodic innuendo, there was nothing that would prevent us from taking our children, even when they were very young—and, we’re very picky as to the movies we allow our young ones to see. Grab a $10 bag of popcorn, a $6 box of candy, and a $4.50 bottle of water, and go enjoy this movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—G. E. Wood, age 47
Positive—This movie was cute. We went to se it twice with our 4 and 2 year olds, and both times when we left the kids were singing “We like to move it, move it!” It had a few moments that were a bit offensive, but they went over my kids heads. I must say, Madagascar is a HUGE step in the right direction for Dreamworks. Now if they would just drop all the offensive stuff…
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Sarah K., age 28
Positive—This movie was so funny! I’m 18 years old, and my friend and I were laughing so hard (we loved the giraffe and the monkeys dancing. I also thought the “drug” hallucination scene was clever. What I liked, and it probably wasn’t intentional, was the whole animal captivity issue. Animals are meant to be free, not caged up in zoos in polluted cities for screaming kids.
My Ratings: Good/4½
—Sarah, age 18
Positive—Stroyline is dull, however there are many funny moments. The penguins are hilarious!
My Ratings: Good / 3½
—Jeremy Duluth, age 19
Negative
Negative—When the hippo comes out of the crate and makes a statement to the starfish and the crab to the effect, “Okay, its time to get off. That’s all the fun you get,” and you see the location of each, you know there is a sexual content to it.
My Ratings: Offensive/4
—Jesse Latham, age 43
Negative—This movie was just bad. My six year old son was bored. My wife and I could not believe it was so bad. The story line was boring. The only good thing about this movie was the king’s dance scene. As Mr. Knightly says to Emma, “badly done, badly done indeed.”
My Ratings: Better than Average/1
—Brinn Clayton, age 41
Negative—My wife and I took 3 children to see this movie. Two 6 year olds and one 3 year old. I thought the adult humor in it was slightly offensive and I was glad I wasn’t asked to explain the humor. The 6 year olds seemed bored at times, the 3 year old seemed to enjoy what she could on her level.

Myself, I was not very thrilled at this movie. It seemed to move slow and the humor wasn’t very good. The acting (voiceovers) and the animation was very well done, but on the whole of things I would have rather rented it than pay 30 dollars for 5 people at the theater.
My Ratings: Average/2½
—Don Sheppard, age 36
Negative—I took my three children, ages 10,6 and 4 and their cousins and two friends. I had no idea what to expect but was very offended when I left the show. There is no need for the hippo to make a sexual comment about the animals when she gets out of the crate, nor is it necessary for them to use the word hell. I just wish that movie makers would go back to making good movies without any lewd comedy. It just isn’t necessary and not funny. As christian we should stand up against this and not go. Even if the majority of the movie is funny, one bad part is enough that we need to send the message that it is not okay for our families.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1
—Michelle Wimmer, age 27
Negative—Is a shortened expletive or “faked” expletive much worse than the real thing? My wife and I took our children and left early after hearing four “almost-foul” expressions within an hour. Several kicks to the lion’s private parts were not appropriate either. And animals “having fun” (as the hippo puts it) on her private parts in a kids’ movie?

This film has the same kind of trash found in “Shrek” and “Shark’s Tale.” If only we had researched the movie before going. Neither children nor adults should spend a dime on this movie. DreamWorks pictures has been placed on our “Must not see” list.
My Ratings: Very Offensive/3
—Pete Amerson, age 31
Negative—My wife and I took our two boys 10 ½ and 6. Even my boys thought it was really dumb, and they like most movies like this. My 6 year old asked if we could go home midway through and my 10 year old said the movie just had no point. The two objectionable comments made previously also apply to us (the hippo and the word “hel#.” Not an annoying movie, but just plain boring with no point, per the kids.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Brian Watson, age 40
Negative—Madagascar left me feeling underwhelmed. For one thing, the plot was as thin and full of holes as a well-used Kleenex. It seemed like nothing was accomplished. Alex the lion did struggle with his carnivore urges, which was interesting, but it didn’t add up to a good plot. By the end of the movie I literally thought, “That was it?” The “climax” seemed more like a fight that would lead to a bigger fight later on, but instead the movie just ended. Ultimately, I think the movie needed a bigger threat than the catlike foosa to make it more interesting.

The movie was also surprisingly slow-paced and could have been a lot funnier. My sister and I thought the funniest characters were the penguins, but unfortunately they weren’t in it that much. I admit that the dance scene with the lemur king is funny, but be warned: the song will probably be stuck in your head for awhile. Otherwise, most of the jokes and gags were on the lame side.

My five year-old brother liked the movie a lot, and most other young kids probably will, too. Kids over the age of 12 will most likely be bored. …as a second-generation cheapskate, I advise you to skip this one. You’ll have a much better evening if you stay home and watch “Shrek” or “Finding Nemo” for the millionth time.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 1½
—Melissa E., age 23
Movie Critics
…untamed fun… Anarchy is the timeless spirit of animation… It’s there as well, in a megaplex-toddler-friendly way, in ‘Madagascar,’ the delightfully wacked new digitally animated comedy…
—Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
…Big roar, small tale…
—Stan Urankar, Sun Newspapers of Cleveland
…The main dialogue is limp, while the small asides and pop-culture references are funny… In short, the movie is like a doughnut, with frosting on the edges and a big hole in the middle…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…‘Madagascar’ is no ‘Shrek’…“Madagascar” has dazzling, detailed animation—the lion alone is a veritable work of art—but the story skews younger than its DreamWorks predecessors…
—Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
…Unoriginal ‘Madagascar’ still entertaining and appropriate…
—Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk
…‘Madagascar’ is no king of the jungle, just a loud piece of light summer family fluff…
—E! Online
Comments from young people
Positive—While I understand why parents take offense to the barest sexual innuendo involved in this, why would someone take offense to the world “Hell” in the film? …Why would any parent not wish their child to know what hell is? How can you understand heaven without knowing the word hell? How can children and the adults they will become differentiate between heaven and hell if they are taught nothing of the latter? If the rules of life in which you follow to ensure the most morally positive Christian life for you and your family include the rule that they should know the word “hell,” then this should not be an issue. It is not intended as a swear, but as a comparison.

The comparison of the island of Madagascar to hell, was, in fact, a bright point in a dull movie. Beautiful and colourful, yes, but slow and dull. Parents, be warned. If you’re easily amused (like me) you won’t be too bored. Personally I liked it, and children under the age of 6 won’t get the one sexual reference anyway. How would your children know what “get off” means? That part, I admit, can be offensive to sensitive adults.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Amanda Thornley, age 16
Positive—This was a great movie. It was a little different from what i expected but, besides the one or 2 bad comments, that I’m guessing only people 10 and up will understand, it was a good movie and was really enjoyable I would definitely go see it again.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4½
—Liz Wells, age 15
Positive—I liked Madagascar, although there are some parts that weren’t necessary (HELP sign falling into HELL, references to squirrel’s nuts, hippo and “all right, fun’s over,” etc.) Otherwise, (and besides the storyline going a little slow sometimes) it was very funny and well done, although it wasn’t as good as I thought it’d be. On a scale of one to ten, I’d rate this movie a 7 ½.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Kati, age 11
Positive—This movie was very funny, from the time they get to Madagascar to the end of the movie I was laughing almost the whole time. Melman (the giraffe) is probably the funniest character in my opinion and the lemur king is also pretty funny. Kids will love this movie, and maybe some of the singing as well.
My Ratings: Better than Average/5
—Kurt, age 14
Neutral—The previews for this were absolutely funny, and I really wanted to see it, but I was really disappointed! Its okay for awhile, but then it gets boring! I think its a good movie for little kids, but not for teens. My ten year old brother liked it, but my grandma fell asleep! Try watching something else, but if you absolutely must, go watch it. There was hardly anything offensive (just a few parts).
My Ratings: Good/3
—Lauren Matthews, age 16
Positive—This movie was great!! I saw it today for the first time and I laughed the entire time!! The penguins, lemurs, and other animals are hilarious!! I am very pleased that the makers of this movie used clean words where most film makers would have used a curse word!!! I recommend this movie to everyone from ages 5-100!!
My Ratings: Good/5
—Bree, age 13
Neutral—I just came back from seeing the movie “Madagascar” in the Theatre, and I have to admit, I feel a bit “blah.” There were a few funny parts, a few cute jokes, like birthday song, and things, but a lot of the jokes were rather crude, and could have been cut out or changed to something less crude quite easily. I did not like the HELP sign turning into HELL, or the the starfish and crab on the hippo and what she said (ok, its time to get off, that’s all the fun you get), I found those things (and a few other minor details) a bit offensive. It was okay, but I’m not going to rush out and buy the movie. It’s definitely not for little kids (several cried in scary parts at the theatre) so careful about its “cute and cuddly” pictures, its not so “cute and cuddly.”
My Ratings: Better than Average/2½
—Sheila A., age 13
Positive—This movie was awesome and I absolutely loved it! It had a great climax and plot. It showed how in friendships when we put our differences aside it will only grow stronger. I think it will be loved by all ages. The characters are so full of life and while watching this movie I could relate to each character! This is a must see with many biblical truths behind the scene.
My Ratings: Excellent/5
—Lauren, age 13
Positive—This was a good movie about friendship and had good humor. Chris Rock was great! However, it was pretty short.
My Ratings: Good/4
—Tyler Smotherman, age 13
Neutral—If I could use one word to describe this movie, I’d use BORING! …This movie is pointless…
My Ratings: Better than Average/1
—Breanne Bendalle, age 13
Neutral—Since Shrek 1 and 2, I have not liked this studio’s animations. They all try to copy both Shreks, rather than taking on something new. This movie had me laughing several times, but than they would throw in something crude and unnecessary, and my laughter stopped. I felt it was cruder than the Shreks and Shark tale. I do however, think it appropriate for younger children, because they will not even understand the suggestive content, but kids who are starting to become young adults most likely will understand it, and perhaps get greater understanding of things parents may not yet want them to know about. Overall, I’d just save my money until the next GOOD animation comes out.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Geno, age 15
Positive—Madagascar was a really funny movie. It had involving characters and a fun little dance number near the middle and at the end (I bought the soundtrack simply for that song). Of the reviews I’ve read, all the negative ones complain about one part in particular—the HELP sign falling over to read HELL. Was this not just a way to express Alex’s (the lion) feelings about being on the island, without him actually full-fledged saying it? In my opinion, they handled that quite well. As for the hippo—well, I can’t really back that up. This movie is very entertaining, but it doesn’t really have a climax. It just sort of… ends. This is a love it/hate it movie that I would recommend to anyone who likes subtle humor and pretty animation.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Jesse Prow, age 15