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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.15%
Worth A Look30.3%
Average: 23.48%
Pretty Bad: 22.73%
Total Crap: 8.33%

10 reviews, 72 user ratings

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by Tom Ciorciari

"Bungle in the jungle"
3 stars

Let me say, right up front, that Dreamworks' latest, MADAGASCAR, is a vast improvement over their last offering, the smug, intermittently offensive SHARK TALE. That said, MADAGASCAR still falls short of the pristine work churned out regularly by the folks over at Pixar.

The story of a group of Central Park Zoo animals (voiced by Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett-Smith, a winningly menschy David Schwimmer and a curiously de-fanged Chris Rock) who end up shipwrecked on the title island and must eventually revert to their natural instincts to survive, Madagascar has a wonderful set-up and the visual flair that is by now expected of these films, yet somehow I couldn't help but think that it could (should?) have been funnier. And the main problem seems to be, similar to Shark Tale, in the casting.

On paper the idea of Ben Stiller voicing the cocksure Alex the Lion alongside Chris Rock's Marty the Zebra – who doesn't know if he's black with white stripes or white with black stripes (an interesting racial issue, considering the gentrification of wild animals existing in Manhattan's urban jungle, that is never developed) must have seemed a slam dunk. Just like casting Robert DeNiro as a literal loan shark must have last year. Unfortunately, Stiller is given very little to do within his scope of personality ticks (which is why you would cast Ben Stiller in the first place, no?), with most of his scenes devoted to whining about his situation and little else. Maybe had the animators bestowed upon the character some of the actor's comic expressions he'd have come off as more than a cartoonish (and, yes, I am aware that we're talking about an animated film here), urbane Simba knock-off. As for Rock's Marty, well, Chris Rock is no Eddie Murphy. Unlike Murphy (who has forged a rather successful second career voicing animated sidekicks), Rock's style is not pliable enough to conform to the necessary PG-regulated confines herein. Of the four leads only Schwimmer's neurotic, hypochondriac Melman the Giraffe works wholesale. Maybe it has to do with there being something giraffe-like about Schwimmer to begin with, or maybe it's just his previously established neurotic Ross Gellar persona tapping into our genetically Friends-altered sense of what should be funny.

On the positive side are a group of Monkeys who speak in the veddy clipped cadences of upper-crusty Britons and a foursome of penguins hellbent on making their way back to Antarctica. It is typical of Dreamworks' films that the monkeys are so underused one would believe that their scenes were sacrificed almost in toto to keep things at a kid-friendly hour and thirty minutes and that the penguins deliver the film's single hands-down out-of-the-park funniest line. It is also telling that none of these supporting characters is voiced by a "star" (like The Incredibles' Edna, the lead penguin is voiced by one of the directors, Ren & Stimpy alumni Tim McGrath). Also mixed in are a colony of wacky lemurs who inhabit the island, headed by the King Louie-esque (Disney's The Jungle Book) King Julian (Sacha Baron Cohen a.k.a. Ali G) and his sidekick Maurice (a totally wasted Cedric the Entertainer). The lemurs keep things lively during the second half of the film (although their tribal dance to Eric Morillo's dance floor staple "I Like To Move It" is a bit precious, even here), coming off, as they do, like the cloned Timon's they're probably supposed to.

Typical of the latter day animated films, especially Dreamworks', are the homages that keep coming, one after another. Some are far too obscure for their audience (TV's "The Twilight Zone", The Mission), or fly over the heads of the little ones (a passably funny American Beauty bit), or so out of left field that they stop the film dead in its tracks (Planet Of the Apes). The two more successful bits give nods to Saturday Night Fever and Castaway, but yet one more round of the Chariots Of Fire theme song played over a slo mo shot of characters running on the beach is considered played out even over at Nickelodeon. Really!

Ultimately, the movie does deliver on the required entertainment quotient for it's demographic, while attempting to lure in those elders who think that films like this and – more to the point – SHREK are really meant for them, without offending the way that SHARK TALE did. Even so, I just couldn't help but wonder what Pixar would have done with the same material.

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originally posted: 06/21/05 09:24:36
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User Comments

12/19/09 Jeff Wilder Funny in spots. But humor is of the cheap variety. 3 stars
1/15/09 Anonymous. cute and forgetable, not one of the better animated movies. 3 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner Great Kids Film! 5 stars
3/28/08 sweeta-kt Sorry, but what is kimerikas? Jane. 1 stars
10/06/07 Marty It was super!, I really liked marty the zebra!! 5 stars
6/21/07 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
5/19/07 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
11/04/06 Tony Myers Why why WHY are studios like DreamWorks and Disney insisting that CGI is "the big thing"? 1 stars
7/29/06 Generic User Name People are too blinded by their own complaining to see some of the real meanings. Loved it. 5 stars
7/23/06 PM it's a great movie!!!! not only for kids. AWESOME!!! 5 stars
7/20/06 David Cohen I've seen enough "hip" comedies to last me for life, now can we please see some funny ones? 2 stars
6/20/06 Sarah it was aweosme.. the little small thing with big eyes was soo CUTE!!! 5 stars
6/05/06 mary terrible 1 stars
4/22/06 Poopy Woopy A Funny very worth while 4 stars
4/15/06 Joe Schmoe cOtToN-eYeD Joe Awesome!!!!!! 5 stars
4/03/06 JRE penguins are cool but the rest is the stupidest most unfunny plot ever 2 stars
1/09/06 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
12/29/05 fargat King Jullian, is all they've got! i like to move it move it! 3 stars
12/17/05 Ala'a Haddad The movie's idea is new and really funny and not only for kids 4 stars
11/22/05 J.D. Pittman III Animation got on my nerves and alex isn't a very good mean lion. PENGUINS! 3 stars
11/21/05 tatum Your kids will love the "American Beauty" reference!? 4 stars
10/16/05 Japanamie Cool film, loved the penguins. 3 stars
9/30/05 laura peñaloza 1 stars
9/13/05 bbbr funny 4 stars
8/26/05 Quigley too short with a weak ending, but man, it was pretty funny. I like to move it move it! 4 stars
8/15/05 Frenzy funny 4 stars
8/11/05 LopsyBunny Totally great. What are these people talking about saying it's bad? It's hilarios! 5 stars
8/10/05 Erica Bobifacio Greatest movie ever!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/29/05 The Man With No Name funny, but doesn't live up to "shrek" or "finding nemo" 3 stars
7/27/05 Willam Marley Not on par with Shrek but gets the target audience's attention 4 stars
7/18/05 bullit16 Had its moments. Cute for kids. 4 stars
7/14/05 Ronald Newbold What a hoot! 4 stars
7/11/05 Brooke I thought it was great especially the lemurs 5 stars
7/11/05 Peteca It's good if you don't have anything else to watch / Buena solo para pasar el rato 3 stars
7/08/05 Uncle Salty it puts the ZZZZZZZZZ in Zoo 1 stars
7/08/05 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
6/30/05 John Ay Okay for the kids, slow for adults. 3 stars
6/28/05 ashley trosclair it was freakin awesome and it was also hilarious!!!!! 5 stars
6/28/05 isabella great movie for kids and teens parents need to live a little happyer to get the movie 5 stars
6/26/05 ryan I liked the characters, the song, and the quote " I like to move it". 4 stars
6/25/05 Samantha Not on same level as Shrek but still funny. Ending annoyingly inconclusive. 4 stars
6/25/05 Njakalahy Excellent summer movie. Looking forward to Madagascar 2. 5 stars
6/24/05 andrew thomson great family movie 4 stars
6/23/05 azpinoy Better than expected, loved the penguins! 4 stars
6/19/05 Quigley definitely not shrek 2 or the incredibles, but had it's laughs. king julien rocks! 4 stars
6/15/05 Kayla AWESOME!! 5 stars
6/13/05 Steven Awesome Movie!!! 4 stars
6/13/05 Holly I LOVE the baby lemur, it's soo cute!!! 5 stars
6/13/05 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
6/11/05 katelyn I loved It (I love king Julian!) 5 stars
6/07/05 Darcy ok for family but not a classic 3 stars
6/06/05 Naka It's, well, total crap. 1 stars
6/05/05 Brian the uninspired dreamworks crapfest rolls on 1 stars
6/04/05 Abigail This was one of the best movies I've ever seen! 5 stars! I only wish they had pictures of t 5 stars
6/03/05 Quigley had some pretty hilarious scenes, but it felt too forced for its own good. 4 stars
6/01/05 Robbie my 2 year old and myself(33) enjoyed alot 4 stars
6/01/05 Titus It ain't pixar, but it was definitely fun, and had some moments of greatness. 4 stars
6/01/05 Ham Sandwich These filmmakers don't understand kids. Kids want violence. 1 stars
5/31/05 Gary Pretty Weak!!!!!! 2 stars
5/31/05 mary todd lincoln save your money!!!! 2 stars
5/30/05 yuk double yuk 1 stars
5/28/05 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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