Madagascar is an animated family film about a group of personable animals that find themselves in an unexpected new place. Starring voice talent from actors like Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and Sasha Baron Cohen, this flick packs a hefty amount of laughs as well.
Like other animated films featuring animals, Madagascar blends together themes of friendship, persistence, and being true to your self. However, it balances those classic themes with bright visuals and a fun cast of characters. Is that enough to make Madagascar stand out from the pack?
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The Film Review
Madagascar begins in New York City at the Central Park Zoo, where a group of animals is preparing for another busy weekend. Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) relishes his place as king of the zoo, while his friends enjoy their spots on the sidelines. The sassy hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) swirls in her pool, while the hypochondriac giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) worries about his many potential illnesses.
The group is all celebrating the birthday of Marty (Chris Rock), a zebra who has dreams of life outside the zoo. When Marty finds out that the penguins are planning a breakout, those dreams become much more tangible.
Through a series of unfortunate yet comedic events, the group of zoo animals finds themselves stranded on the tropical island of Madagascar, miles upon miles from New York. Not everyone is pleased with the situation, especially Alex, who blames Marty for the whole situation. Once best friends, the pair quickly become frustrated with each other as the situation grows direr.
Elsewhere on the island, a group of lemurs led by King Julien (Sasha Baron Cohen) is in a never-ending battle with the predatory “foosas” that hunt them down. Noticing an opportunity to side with a seemingly harmless lion, the lemurs attempt to use the group as their protection.
The result is a charming and memorable adventure that is both a fish-out-of-water story and a tale of friendship through times of adversity. The characters are all very personable, and the voice-acting matches the squad of excitable and energetic animals.
This vibrancy is shown off in the visuals of Madagascar as well, which are often colorful and well-designed. Secondary characters like the penguins and lemurs keep the main story funny and refreshing, while the more serious plight of the main group acts as the focal plot. It’s a story that never bites off more than it can chew, which is a problem a lot of modern animated films have.
Overall, Madagascar is a straightforward story that works well for all audiences. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, there’s something in this movie that will make you chuckle or smile. Not every performance is amazing, and not every sub-plot pays off, but the overall experience is light and enjoyable. Madagascar is a great pick for any family movie night, and contains relatable and positive themes for younger audience members. A variety of slapstick humor and pop culture references make Madagascar more than just a simple comedy film, propelling it a step further than what is commonly excepted as passable in the family-film genre.
- Memorable characters
- Colorful environments and interesting art direction
- Straightforward narrative with good themes
- Some of the funnier characters are underused
- Takes a while to get to the main action