Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
|Better than Average
|Animation Comedy Kids Family
|1 hr. 20 min.
|Year of Release:
May 27, 2005
Review of the sequel to this film: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
|Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith, David Schwimmer
|Mireille Soria, Karey Kirkpatrick
|DreamWorks Pictures, aka DreamWorks Studios, a production label of Amblin Partners
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.