Director-Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Voices-Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer
Scott’s Review #1,247
Reviewed April 17, 2022
Madagascar (2005) is a film that I found mildly entertaining but struggled to enjoy as much as others might. Films with a target audience of age thirteen and under are a tough sell for me because I don’t see them very often.
Having no children I have few opportunities to join in on the children’s games or sit at the kiddie table and get in that mindset.
Nonetheless, this film somehow crossed my radar.
It’s lighthearted and juvenile but playfully fun sending a positive message of friendship and dedication. Not a fan of the zoo at all my curiosity was piqued at how this angle would be represented if at all. Would the captivity of the zoo face off against the natural African wildlife?
The screenwriters tread safe waters keeping their audience in mind and don’t go for any deep message or environmental or animal issues, playing it quite safe.
Madagascar suffers from blandness and predictability knowing that the audience isn’t quite ready to think outside the box and their parents will obediently sit beside them watching the film.
The result is a film brimming with possibilities that it never realizes. It’s a ready-made family film and nothing more.
Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) is the king of the urban jungle and the main draw at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) have spent their lives at the zoo with admiring fans and tasty meals provided for them.
In their minds, they have it pretty good.
Yet Marty yearns for more and lets his curiosity get the better of him when he escapes the zoo to explore the world. He and his friends wind up on a ship back to Africa and are then shipwrecked on Madagascar and left to fend for themselves in the wild.
They face dangers and allies during their adventures and wrestle with either returning to the zoo or staying in their natural habitat.
There is plenty of humor to occupy the crowd but most of the jokes are tepid or fall flat altogether. They have very little substance to offer but rather are silly gags meant to keep the adventure going.
Big stars like Rock, Schwimmer, and Stiller are cast most likely to appeal to parents forced to go to the show with their kids. Recognizable voices always sell tickets in the animated world.
Secondary characters work better than the main cast. Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII is a standout.
Mildly entertaining and soft touch in its approach Madagascar (2005) left me feeling dull and yearning for something a bit more challenging and robust in the field of kid’s film.
Its intent is merely to entertain and not to challenge so the result is a middle-of-the-road experience for me.
I’ll take any of the Toy Story (1995-2019) films any day.