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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 Scott Weinberg

"It's not every day you can say '...and David Schwimmer as The Giraffe!'"
3 stars

We've now reached the point in the CG cycle where we no longer ask "Is it as good as Pixar?" The new question regarding computer animation movies is "Is it better than Shark Tale?" And considering that "Madagascar" is the next CG family comedy from DreamWorks, after the aggressively unpleasant "Shark Tale," the question takes on a little more relevance. Two "Shark Tale"s in a row would be a sign of even worse things to come. So it's with much relief and a mild thumbs-up that I assure you: "Madagascar" is, indeed, better than "Shark Tale."

Since every single CGI family flick is practically guaranteed 150 million bucks at the box office, and this review is therefore entirely unnecessary and actually kind of pointless, I'll keep the review brief.

If you've got a kid under the age of 12, you'll want to take them to see Madagascar, because they'll probably have a darn good time with it. OK, I know that's not all that lofty of an endorsement; kids are notorious for loving just about any ol' cartoon that's laden with pratfalls, animals, and kooky sound effects. But Madagascar proves to be just charming and witty enough to keep the grown-ups entertained while the rugrats fall into the aisles in peals of hysterical laughter.

That's not to imply that Madagascar comes close to achieving that seemingly patented brand of Pixar Magic. No, the Pixar movies are clearly in a class by themselves. While something like The Incredibles offers layer upon layer of stunningly satisfying cinematic goodness, a movie like Madagascar is all about high-end animation, amiable silliness, and a whole lot of physical schtick.

Madagascar is about four goofy animals who (unwittingly) escape from their Central Park zoo, travel across the ocean, and ultimately end up stranded in a deep, dark jungle. Our heroes are a lion (Ben Stiller), a zebra (Chris Rock, a hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and a giraffe (David Schwimmer). There are a few rather aimless plot threads about finding one's roots, being loyal to friends, and learning how to deal with the fact that you just might be hungry enough to eat your best friend -- but Madagascar is less about plot than it is about silly animals doing goofy things.

Aside from Schwimmer, the voice-actors seem content to just play themselves, which makes an ironic point: these rather expensive leading men are among the movie's biggest detriments. Say what you will about Mike Myers' Shrek, but at least that guy's using a different voice to help create an animated character. So not for even a second are you "getting to know" this lion and that zebra. You're just listening to Ben Stiller and Chris Rock as their words spill out of animated mammals. Tough gig, eh fellas?

I'm sorry but "voice acting" and "speaking into a microphone" are not exactly the same thing. And it's irritating that a guy like Ben Stiller can just monotone his way through a performance and earn a huge paycheck while someone like, say, Billy West could have done something truly hilarious with this role.

But there's some good news on the other side of the coin: Andy Richter gets a lot of solid laughs as a devious penguin, and Sacha Cohen absolutely steals the entire movie as a lunatic lemur. Toss in a few hilarious gags from a pair of wise-ass monkeys, and you're looking at a supporting cast that upstages the stars with no effort whatsoever. OK, fair's fair: David Schwimmer really does have a great voice for animated comedies, but I still stand by this opinion: Nearly all of Madagascar's laughs come from the supporting characters, and from a movie that stars Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, that's a pretty telling statement.

Parents, you already know if your kids are going to be dragging you into "Madagascar," so I'll save you some stress by telling you that the flick made me laugh with a fairly surprising consistency. Many of the film's best chuckles come courtesy of the fast-paced animation style -- and the rest come from the background penguins, monkeys, and lemurs. My humble advice to the DreamWorks Animation Bureau would simply be this: skip the A-list voice-actors the next time out. The kids are going to line up around the block either way, and without all that excess salary and ego, you're inevitably bound to make a better movie.

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originally posted: 05/27/05 15:57:04
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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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