Movie Name: Madagascar
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Release Date(s): May 27, 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Marty is turning ten years old and wishing to see the world. Stuck in the Central Park Zoo, Marty has lots of friends including the zoo’s star attraction of Alex the lion. When Marty makes a break for freedom and Alex, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippopotamus go after him along with others from the zoo, they find themselves shipped off to Africa to be released into the wild. An accident at sea strands the animals on Madagascar where their true animal nature begins to surface…and it could destroy the animals’ friendships forever.
Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath, Madagascar is a computer-animated family comedy. The movie was released to mixed to average reviews but was a big box office success.
I tried to watch Madagascar once and couldn’t get through it. A second attempt was kind of painful but I endured to pound it out…the movie despite its success, just isn’t very good.
The story is really wandering and the jokes don’t know their target audience. The movie tries to take the path of Shrek with some jokes for adult but a story that all can enjoy, but Madagascar’s story isn’t that enjoyable. The story is too kids based and has little direction. Are they going to escape the zoo? Are they going to Madagascar? Is the movie about their friendship? What the hell are the penguins doing and what’s up the lemurs? There is no structured path for the narrative and then you get jokes from American Beauty mixed in…which is just what kids have been demanding.
The movie has a strong cast of voice actors. Ben Stiller and Chris Rock both would be considered the leads as Alex and Marty. Schwimmer translates his neurotic Ross into Melman the giraffe. Jada Pinkett Smith is the only real female player as Gloria the hippo, Sacha Baron Cohen plays the lemur king. Cedric the Entertainer plays the aye-aye, and Andy Richter is the Goodman’s mouse lemur.
The animation for Madagascar is so-so. There was such a rash of computer animated films at the time, and Pixar still holds the prize for the most solid maker. There is something cheap about the art…mostly the textures and backgrounds aren’t as good as something by Pixar.
It seemed for a time that computer animated movies were money regardless of the quality. I feel Madagascar is one of those movies on the bubble. It doesn’t feel like enough work was put into the movie to make a balanced story and the jokes are too few and far between for kids or adults to really enjoy it. Despite this, Madagascar made massive dollars and started a franchise. Madagascar was followed by Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008.