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Overall Rating

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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by David Cornelius

"As forgettable and disposable as family movies get."
2 stars

I realized all too late that my punishment for actually liking, or, at least, not minding such fluff as “Shark Tale” and “Robots” was that I now must endure “Madagascar.” Here we have a cartoon that, like most cartoons these days, has been produced mainly as a product and not really as a movie; jokes are told and lessons are learned, but only enough as to get the kids interested in buying Melman the Giraffe plush dolls. Not that I was expecting the cinematic magic of a Pixar release, but at least a workable storyline or some clever yuks would’ve been nice. As it is, “Madagascar” is a film that, visually, is quite colorful and lively, but what’s underneath is bland, uninventive, and downright dull.

The film’s problem is that it’s all premise and nothing else. To be fair, the premise is a cute one: Marty (voiced by Chris Rock) is a zebra at the Central Park Zoo; he yearns to run free in the wilds of Africa, or, at least, Connecticut. His friends - Alex, the lion (Ben Stiller); Gloria, a hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith); and the aforementioned Melman (David Schwimmer) - enjoy the safety and comfort of captivity, the only life they’ve known. And yet they cannot convince Marty to stay put, and soon find themselves trying to stop their pal from boarding a New England-bound train at Grand Central.

The ensuing chaos (we, the audience, can hear these animals speak our language, but the humans of the film only hear roars) results in the foursome being boxed up and shipped off to Africa. That’s where the subplot kicks in, one involving devious penguins planning their Antarctica escape with military precision. The boat turns, our heroes fall overboard, and soon they wake up on the shores of Madagascar.

Which is where the movie hits a wall. You can tell that the filmmakers - four writers, two of them directing - realized that the only thing that really worked here in terms of sheer fun was those tricky penguins. Before we get to the titular land, we get plenty of penguin action, always doled out just as the story begins to go limp. But after they sail away home, what then? The writers find themselves stuck with four characters about which nobody really cares (with no offense meant toward Pinkett Smith, the Gloria character is so vacant and useless that the filmmakers would have gotten the exact same results had they just inserted a cardboard sign reading “insert female character here,” and substituting all the dialogue with “blah blah, celebrity voice, blah blah”), and with no clue on what to do with them.

The Madagascar scenes are so lifeless that the writers eventually manage to bring the penguins back, for no reason other than to make them the film’s main selling point. (Hey, at least they know their weaknesses, even if they don’t bother to fix them.) The movie’s second half features a cloying, slapped-together-at-the-last-minute story in which Alex begins to hunger for zebra meat, and there’s also something about a tribe of unfunny lemurs (their king is voiced by Sasha Baron Cohen, aka “Ali G,” whose dopey accents-as-jokes is a style of comedy that’s just not for me) who need help defending themselves from hungry predators, and something else about… hmm? What’s that? The movie’s over? Already?

Yeah, the film is mercifully short, but in being so, it’s also too light on any complete story. The whole thing feels like a rough draft, a bare bones outline, with character development and action and interest to be inserted later.

What, then, is used to fill out the running time? Feeble pop culture references that are too grown-up to make sense to the youngsters and too unfunny to win over the older viewers. The film tosses us a “Chariots of Fire” gag just because its characters are running on a beach. That’s it. It’s a fifth-rate reference passed off as a top notch joke, and I’m not buying.

Sadly, it’s one of the film’s more successful reference/jokes. The writers also threw in parodies of “Planet of the Apes,” “Cast Away,” and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” - the last of which had so much potential, considering the main characters, yet is thrown away instead with a scene that will only win eye rolls.

Worst of all is a take-off of “American Beauty.” First of all, what first grader’s going to understand any of this, and secondly, “Family Guy” did the exact same gag a few years back, only much, much funnier.

References as punchlines, when pulled off well, can be plenty fun. But it’s a major risk, not only because such jokes can quickly date your film, but also because if the reference is all there is to a joke, odds are pretty high that the joke won’t fly.

But that’s all “Madagascar” bothers to offer. Sure, the penguin bits are funny in spots, as are a few other random yuks (OK, so I liked Schwimmer’s neurotic giraffe, and anything involving monkeys discussing poo-throwing will always make me giggle). And sure, the computer animation is bright and vibrant and everything we’ve come to expect our computer animated films to be. But the filmmakers give us nothing else, nothing at all. Their product is merely a time-passer for the kiddies, crammed together with little effort and no thought beyond what would make a quick sell in the cross-marketing department. In an age where Pixar can deliver majestic works that shine on multiple levels, there’s no reason to ask our kids to bother with disposable projects like this.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12362&reviewer=392
originally posted: 06/05/05 20:29:16
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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
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
7/17/05 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
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  27-May-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 15-Nov-2005



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