Review Date: January 13, 2006
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Writer: Mark Burton, Billy Frolick
Producers: Teresa Cheng, Mireille Soria
Ben Stiller as Alex
Chris Rock as Marty
David Schwimmer as Melman
An animated film featuring four New York City Zoo animals, a zebra, a lion, a giraffe and a hippopotamus, who bolt from their entrapment one evening, and through a series of circumstances, end up on a boat and ultimately, the island of Madagascar. Not sure on whether or not they like the island, the animals spend much of the second half of the film goofing around. The question to you: is their “goofing around” entertaining?
The best word to describe this animated venture is “serviceable”, in my opinion. The film doesn’t attempt anything too original a la SHREK or MONSTERS INC., it doesn’t crack you up all way across the board, it doesn’t feature a newly developed or overly-impressive sort of animation, but it covers its bases with a handful of funny characters mixed into an easy-to-follow plotline and plenty of colorful animated adventures, which stacked inside an 80-minute runtime, make for an “okay” time, particularly for the younger crowd. Unlike CHICKEN LITTLE, the film does offer enough entertainment for adults as well, with its ode to AMERICAN BEAUTY sticking out the most in my mind. I also really enjoyed the “acid trip” sequence early on, as well as a handful of running gags, especially the one featuring the animals drinking their drinks on the island and then spitting them out. But ultimately for me, it was the hilarious secondary characters that kept me going, particularly the cool-ass penguins, who ruled the film, as well as the bright monkeys, who were underutilized, and the island-ferrets, many of which were quite amusing (“I like to move it, move it…!”) The penguins, in fact, should be given their own motion picture…that thing would rule!
As for the four lead characters in this film, well…they were “okay”, especially the ones voiced by Chris Rock and Ben Stiller, but I didn’t think all four were really necessary, particularly since neither of the other two characters (the giraffe and the hippo) brought all that much to the proceedings. If their parts had been cut and more meat been given to the funnier side-characters, I’m sure I would have enjoyed more of this film. Also, when evaluating any movie, I really tend to focus on its story when all is said and done, and to be honest, not much was given to us in that respect either. It almost felt like a 2-act movie (the first part in New York and the second in Madagascar), while its conclusion was simply “tacked on” in order to create some sort of artificial conflict that wasn’t really there. Which ties in to the film’s other big problem: no bad guys. The film is basically just a “walk in the park” and even though that’s fine for a lot of people, especially the kidlets, I expect a little more juice from my animated flicks, especially when all-around entertainment vehicles like THE INCREDIBLES have raised the bar so high. All in all, not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing particularly amazing either.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian