Reviewed by: Max Blinkhorn

Hugely billed and trailed, and the worse for it, Madagascar has all the markings of a classic animated film. Two big names topping the bill, astounding artwork and animation, you would think it would hook in the kids, no problem. So why is Stiller's character, Alex the Lion, the thorn in the paw of the show? Because Alex is not very good, that's why. Everything is right about the film except Stiller's Alex and, maybe, the Zebra, Marty, voiced by Chris Rock, who has a few good lines, but is still rather lacklustre.

The story's good. It's animals searching for a life less ordinary. Bored with their pampered existence in New York City Zoo, they end up being returned to Africa, but before reaching their destination, are shipwrecked on Madagascar and have to fend for themselves. With hilarious consequences? Well, a few, but at the showing I was at, the young audience didn't laugh much at all. Monkies throwing "poo" produced lots of giggles, but there's not much under-six humour here. Usually, Dreamworks seems able to hit the spot, but in Madagascar, it's a bit off target and I couldn't honestly say which age group it is aimed at.

Copy picture

On the plus side, the animation standard is amazing and it must be asked, where in film animation does reality begin and end now? Answers on four sides of A4 - second thoughts, leave that for another day.

Sacha Baron Cohen, better known to British audiences as Ali G, as King Julien the 14th, steals the show, along with his band of Lemurs. Cohen has created the film's strongest character largely by himself and shows up the rest as a bunch of also rans.

David Schwimmer fills the role of hypochondriac Giraffe, Melman, too perfectly - this is Ross with long legs. He is the best of the four leads, however. Mafiosi Penguins put on a good show and manage to be funny in the way they intended, but the main four characters are too straight. It's a shame, because coming from "Noo Yok", surely they could have given them Brooklyn and Bronx accents and personalities. Wouldn't that be natural?

Without the Lemurs and Monkey poo, Madagascar would hit a tree mid-swing and slide to the ground. It's a great concept, well backed up with highly competent, silky smooth animation, but more energy and development from Stiller would have made all the difference.

Doubtless, Madagascar 2 is being commissioned now. Well guys, I would wait and see if the public roars approval before you spend more money, otherwise you may find yourselves well down the food chain.

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 ****
Kotleta ****
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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