I heard a lot of good things about “Madagascar” but I had my doubts though and rightly so. It’s all well made and such. The animation is cartoon like with enough details to make it look good. The characters are not too interesting and the two monkeys are the funniest of the bunch but they have next to no screen time. The penguins are the key element and the driving force that kicks the whole “break out” story in motion. Again they have next to no screen time. Instead we get the thumb sucking lion Alex (voice: Ben Stiller), the neurotic giraffe Melman, the manic-depressive zebra Marty (voice: Chris Rock) and the motherly hippo Gloria.
There are a few jokes and amusing scenes but not enough to make this a hilarious fun ride. Once you meet the lemurs and the lemurs meet the pansies the movie is practically over, were it not for the returning penguins.
The penguins have their own agenda from the very start and are initially the ones who want to break out because … they do not belong in a zoo. Let us call it self awareness. Needless to say, they succeed and reach the south pole. This coincidentally is also the best scene in the movie: You see a group of penguins from behind, standing on floating ice, heavy snowfall and a harsh cold wind is blowing when you hear two words: “This sucks!”
After dismissing the real penguins’ natural habitat they return to the hot sunny beaches and ensure everyone’s happiness with Swiss clockwork precision, again with minimal screen time.
I must admit, this movie did one good thing for me: I went to have Sushi afterwards and it was delicious, much better than steak, esp. around where I live. Does this influence my rating? Not in the least! “Madagascar” is above average, no doubt and it’s tame enough for kids as well although I have to wonder about the “message” here. Hijack a ship – hold the crew hostage – fling poo! Of course the main characters have nothing to do with the latter, they are innocent on every level and just want to be together, no matter where.
There are way better kid movies out there. After “Shrek 2” DreamWorks seems to have run out of good ideas, “Shark Tales” also was just above average at best and like “Madagascar” classifies as one of the studio’s weaker titles in the last years.