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Overall Rating
3.21

Awesome: 15.15%
Worth A Look30.3%
Just Average: 23.48%
Pretty Crappy: 22.73%
Sucks: 8.33%

10 reviews, 72 user ratings


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Madagascar
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The world's most expensive 'Tennessee Tuxedo' episode"
2 stars

In one of the more curious uses of resources in recent memory, Dreamworks has invested tens of millions of dollars, countless man-hours and the newest developments in CGI animation for their latest family film, “Madagascar,” and all they have come up with is the world’s longest and most expensive episode of “Tennessee Tuxedo.” This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, I suppose, if it had any of the wit and charm of the TV show that remains Don Adams’s second-finest hour as a performer, but it doesn’t. Instead, it is another Pixar-wannabe that tries to cover up its lack of a compelling storyline or characters with an avalanche of big-name stars and trite pop-culture references. This is the kind of film where the best thing that you can possibly say about it (besides the fact that it is completely Go-Go Gopher-free) is that it isn’t quite as bad as lesser examples of the genre–such as “Shark Tale” and “Robots”–because there isn’t really much else on display worth discussing.

Chris Rock provides the lead voice of Marty, a zebra at the Central Park Zoo who, after turning 10, begins to wonder what life might be like in that fabled wonderland known as “the wild.” (Here, “the wild” is considered to be Connecticut.) His best pal Alex (Ben Stiller), the lion who is the zoo’s top draw, thinks that he is crazy–why would anyone want to live in the wild when all of their desires are provided for, especially those desires that can be sated with a juicy steak? Despite that powerful incentive, Marty sneaks out of the zoo and heads off to Grand Central Station to hop the next train to Connecticut and Alex, along with bossy hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) and hypochondriac giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer), follows along to try to stop him. Panic ensues and, thanks to protests from what a newscaster describes as “animal rights wackos,” the zoo apparently decides to shut down and send all of its animals off to a wildlife refuge in Kenya–even the penguins. (Frankly, if they are sending penguins to Kenya, the “wackos” may actually have a point about their care.)

Proving that they are as cunning as they are well-dressed, the penguins seize control of the ship and in the confusion, the crates containing Marty, Alex, Gloria and Melman fall overboard and are washed up on the sandy shores of Madagascar. Not quite grasping the situation, the quartet assume that they have been transferred to the San Diego Zoo until they stumble upon a tribe of lemurs, led by the goofy King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen, better known as Ali G) and his long-suffering right-hand lemur Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer). Marty is giddy and makes himself at home, Alex freaks and tries to find a way home and the lemurs are ecstatic because these enormous interlopers can help defend them from an army of predators that have been using them as appetizers. Much wackiness occurs, as well as all the poignancy that can be mustered when a zebra begins to realize that the lion that was formerly his best friend now is beginning to see him as a potential lunch course.

And yes, the film really is as dull as the above description makes it sound. The initial idea of the day-to-day lives of animals in a literal urban jungle is a promising one but it is almost instantly dumped in order to pursue Marty’s less-than-interesting yearnings for a different life. The idea of urban animals forced to live in a real jungle is also a good one but again, the small army of writers can’t think of anything better to do than B-level slapstick, wacky voices and would-be sentimentality. Hell, they can’t even be bothered to come up with a proper ending for the piece–instead, they tag on the kind of silly, non-sequitur closing gag that you can get away with on “The Simpsons” (since you know that everything will be back to normal the following week) but not in a feature film in which you are pretending to tell a cohesive story.

Instead, directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath try to compensate with the same crutches that too many recent animated films have reached for in desperation. The voice cast is filled with the kind of star power that make for good guests on the talk-show circuit but none of them, with the possible exception of Cohen, has the kind of truly distinctive voice or personality that makes for truly inspired voice work. (By comparison, Craig T. Nelson may not have been the biggest name in the world but I defy you to name another, bigger star that could have nailed his role in “The Incredibles” better than he did.) Even more annoying are the ever-present pop-culture references, which are mostly tiresome because all they do is use a familiar music cue (such as “Hawaii Five-0,” “Chariots of Fire” and the “National Geographic” theme) or exactly copy a moment from a famous movie (including titles such as “American Beauty” and “Saturday Night Fever” that will mean nothing to the target pre-teen audience) on the assumption that viewers will laugh because they recognize the reference instead of using the time to come up with something that is both amusing and original. (There is, happily, one such bit on display–a “Twilight Zone” goof that I will not identify because to do so would spoil the joke.)

No doubt, many parents will be taking their offspring to see this over the next few weeks since, with the exception of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle,” it appears to be the only major animated film of the summer. As a morale booster, I will mention that there are a couple of worthwhile elements in “Madagascar.” The aforementioned penguins score big laughs every time they appear on screen. The visuals are brighter and more colorful than the dull, drab look of “Robots.” And there is one joke involving a couple of monkeys and author Tom Wolfe that should have anyone who managed to make it to the end of “I Am Charlotte Simmons!” cheering with delight. For the remaining 70-odd minutes, I suggest bringing along your BlackBerry so that you can get caught up on work.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12362&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/26/05 23:39:47
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User Comments

12/18/09 Jeff Wilder Funny in spots. But humor is of the cheap variety. 3 stars
1/14/09 Anonymous. cute and forgetable, not one of the better animated movies. 3 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner Great Kids Film! 5 stars
6/13/08 PAUL SHORTT A BRIGHTLY COLOURED, GOOD-HEARTED FILM 3 stars
3/27/08 sweeta-kt Sorry, but what is kimerikas? Jane. 1 stars
10/05/07 Marty It was super!, I really liked marty the zebra!! 5 stars
6/20/07 Dark Enchantress i love this movie! I love the head lemur as well. 5 stars
5/28/07 fools♫gold Has anyone who rates this 5 stars seen a single cartoon on television? 2 stars
5/18/07 APosterTest Good site, thanks! APosterTest 2 stars
2/08/07 Matt Starts off all right but goes clean off the rails around half way through. 3 stars
11/03/06 Tony Myers Why why WHY are studios like DreamWorks and Disney insisting that CGI is "the big thing"? 1 stars
7/28/06 Generic User Name People are too blinded by their own complaining to see some of the real meanings. Loved it. 5 stars
7/22/06 PM it's a great movie!!!! not only for kids. AWESOME!!! 5 stars
7/19/06 David Cohen I've seen enough "hip" comedies to last me for life, now can we please see some funny ones? 2 stars
6/19/06 Sarah it was aweosme.. the little small thing with big eyes was soo CUTE!!! 5 stars
6/04/06 mary terrible 1 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy A Funny very worth while 4 stars
4/14/06 Joe Schmoe cOtToN-eYeD Joe Awesome!!!!!! 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE penguins are cool but the rest is the stupidest most unfunny plot ever 2 stars
1/08/06 Bad Critic Good animation, but the rest is just so so. 3 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth Dreamworks score a winner after the dull "Shark Tale", and the middiling "Shrek 2" 5 stars
12/28/05 fargat King Jullian, is all they've got! i like to move it move it! 3 stars
12/16/05 Ala'a Haddad The movie's idea is new and really funny and not only for kids 4 stars
11/21/05 J.D. Pittman III Animation got on my nerves and alex isn't a very good mean lion. PENGUINS! 3 stars
11/20/05 tatum Your kids will love the "American Beauty" reference!? 4 stars
10/15/05 Japanamie Cool film, loved the penguins. 3 stars
9/30/05 laura peñaloza 1 stars
9/13/05 bbbr funny 4 stars
8/25/05 Quigley too short with a weak ending, but man, it was pretty funny. I like to move it move it! 4 stars
8/14/05 Frenzy funny 4 stars
8/10/05 LopsyBunny Totally great. What are these people talking about saying it's bad? It's hilarios! 5 stars
8/09/05 Erica Bobifacio Greatest movie ever!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/28/05 The Man With No Name funny, but doesn't live up to "shrek" or "finding nemo" 3 stars
7/26/05 Willam Marley Not on par with Shrek but gets the target audience's attention 4 stars
7/25/05 Jon Tamer NO HINTS ABOUT SITUATION IN THE REAL MADAGSCAR-EG. EXTREME POVERTY, EXTENSIVE DEFORESTATION 1 stars
7/17/05 bullit16 Had its moments. Cute for kids. 4 stars
7/13/05 Ronald Newbold What a hoot! 4 stars
7/10/05 Brooke I thought it was great especially the lemurs 5 stars
7/10/05 Peteca It's good if you don't have anything else to watch / Buena solo para pasar el rato 3 stars
7/07/05 Uncle Salty it puts the ZZZZZZZZZ in Zoo 1 stars
7/07/05 Kendra Amorson i loved it, i laghted, cryed, adn smiled 5 stars
7/05/05 helen yost this was an awsomely funny flick that would warm any cold kids heart especially the lemurs 4 stars
7/03/05 Natalia i though it waz kool 5 stars
7/01/05 Jack Farnsworth Not the best movie but kicks Robots ass! 4 stars
6/29/05 John Ay Okay for the kids, slow for adults. 3 stars
6/27/05 ashley trosclair it was freakin awesome and it was also hilarious!!!!! 5 stars
6/27/05 isabella great movie for kids and teens parents need to live a little happyer to get the movie 5 stars
6/25/05 ryan I liked the characters, the song, and the quote " I like to move it". 4 stars
6/24/05 Samantha Not on same level as Shrek but still funny. Ending annoyingly inconclusive. 4 stars
6/24/05 Njakalahy Excellent summer movie. Looking forward to Madagascar 2. 5 stars
6/23/05 andrew thomson great family movie 4 stars
6/23/05 azpinoy Better than expected, loved the penguins! 4 stars
6/18/05 Quigley definitely not shrek 2 or the incredibles, but had it's laughs. king julien rocks! 4 stars
6/14/05 Kayla AWESOME!! 5 stars
6/12/05 Steven Awesome Movie!!! 4 stars
6/12/05 Holly I LOVE the baby lemur, it's soo cute!!! 5 stars
6/12/05 Jean I thought it was a cute childrens movie 4 stars
6/11/05 KingNeutron AVOID, AVOID - these people are obviously trying **WAY** too hard (and failing) to be funny 1 stars
6/10/05 katelyn I loved It (I love king Julian!) 5 stars
6/07/05 Darcy ok for family but not a classic 3 stars
6/05/05 Naka It's, well, total crap. 1 stars
6/04/05 Brian the uninspired dreamworks crapfest rolls on 1 stars
6/03/05 Abigail This was one of the best movies I've ever seen! 5 stars! I only wish they had pictures of t 5 stars
6/02/05 Quigley had some pretty hilarious scenes, but it felt too forced for its own good. 4 stars
5/31/05 Robbie my 2 year old and myself(33) enjoyed alot 4 stars
5/31/05 Titus It ain't pixar, but it was definitely fun, and had some moments of greatness. 4 stars
5/31/05 Ham Sandwich These filmmakers don't understand kids. Kids want violence. 1 stars
5/31/05 Gary Pretty Weak!!!!!! 2 stars
5/30/05 mary todd lincoln save your money!!!! 2 stars
5/30/05 yuk double yuk 1 stars
5/27/05 HL The penguins could not save this movie. 3 stars
5/27/05 Christy Schultz The first ten minutes are kind of slow..but it gets pretty funny after that. Penguins rule. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-May-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Jun-2005




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