Reviewed by: Kotleta

Madagascar - when you say it out loud, it feels like Casablanca on your tongue, but does anyone know where it is? A degree in geography won't affect your enjoyment of this film, but knowledge is its own reward. Allegedly.

Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), a hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer) called Melman and Gloria the token female hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) all live in Central Park zoo, where Alex delights in his role as king of the show-offs and Marty wonders if there is more to life than prancing about like a twat for the enjoyment of small children.

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One day Marty has a mid-life crisis and decides to make a break for the wilds by hopping on a train to Connecticut. When his friends reluctantly chase after him as subtly as large man-eating animals in a big city can, New York develops a social conscience and ships the lot of them off to their natural habitat, a place as familiar as Mars since they've all been reared in captivity. Unfortunately, some psychotic penguins hijack the boat and they end up marooned on a desert island inhabited by benign skeletons, cute furry monkeys with big wet eyes and sharp-toothed snarling predators who want to eat them. If they are to survive in this alien environment, Marty and the gang have to get in touch with their inner wild and stop depending on people for home comforts. But, as they soon discover, "the wild" is a lion eat zebra world...

While it's formulaically funny and kids will adore every derivative minute, Madagascar is neither original, nor fun enough to survive beyond the initial merchandising campaign. Marty is essentially Donkey from Shrek, only in a different colour scheme, with a younger, hipper black actor providing the voice. Similar criticisms can be made of the other characters and while the children frankly won't care, this will probably prevent it from having the crossover appeal of The Incredibles, Shrek and Toy Story.

What's worth remembering though is that this IS made for children. The popularity of Harry Potter and the consequent development of the so-called kidult market often leads us to forget that children need and want different things from a film. Children like repetition. They like silly, obvious jokes. They like the Teletubbies. And although their parents will be screaming by the 53rd viewing on DVD next Christmas, children will love this.

Reviewed on: 15 Jul 2005
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Madagascar packshot
Four animated animals from Central Park Zoo are shipwrecked on the wild shores of Madagascar.
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Read more Madagascar reviews:

Josh Morrall ****
Max Blinkhorn ***1/2
The Exile **1/2

Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

Writer: Mark Burton, Billy Frolick, Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

Starring: voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Chris Miller, Eric Darnell

Year: 2005

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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