A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG for mild language, crude humor and some thematic elements.
Starring:Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and Ross
Directed By:Mathew Vaughn

Final Grade:

What’s a better way to start off your summer than with cute and cuddly deranged penguins? Well as much fun as that actually tuns out to be, the fun doesn’t stop there. The folks at Dreamworks pictures have brought the zoo to life with Madagascar, an all new animated event for the whole family.

Madagascar is the story of Marty the Zebra and his pals Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe that find themselves in the wild during a zoo transport gone wrong thanks to the help of a group of menacing penguins. Now trapped in the wild with a group of loony lemurs the zoo critters learn about the wild and friendship.

Cute and Cuddly characters and a some great actors who lend their voices to this animated flick make Madagascar the fun filled animated film that families will love this summer season. Ben Stiller and Chris Rock as Alex and Marty works amazingly well and the two play off each other perfectly. Backed up by an easily forgettable performance by Jada Pinket Smith and an equally forgettable performance by Ross (I mean David “Ross” Schwimmer) Madagascar is filled full of some good laughs and a lighthearted script that flows smoothly from scene to scene.

But supporting creatures are what make the film exciting. It’s those crazy penguins that keep you laughing in the brief time they are on the screen. There is just something about conspiracy crazed penguins waddling about that make you laugh as they plot their trip to Antarctica. Mix that in with a jungle full of Lemurs whose leader whose lack of wits could only be challenged by Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson and you’re set for some great family friendly laughs for the kids and some for the grown ups as well.

Where Madagascar does fall through though is in its plot. I’m really not sure what the point is of the film. Normally every family film has a cathartic moment where the characters learn something, whether it is “true love conquers all” or “inner beauty is more important” or sometimes just “good defeats evil” but Madagascar doesn’t really bring anything like that to the table. I guess the point of Madagascar was the weak plot device about the power of true friendship. After all, a lion and a zebra as friends in the wild? It sounds kind of silly to me.

I wish I could say that Madagascar is the film of the year, but it’s not all that and a bag o’ potato chips. Sure it’s filled with some great laughs, and some great one liners but it’s another aspiring Shrek that doesn’t make the cut. The little kids will love it, but the adults will become quickly bored with the film despite its 85-minute runtime. The penguins are the film’s main attraction and their screen time is very short lived. The final verdict is that if you have kids, baby-sit for kids or are a really big kid at heart, you’re going to enjoy Madagascar. There are far more painful things to sit through. Take the kids out to this one and have some fun with them. They are only young for a little while; they grow up so fast! Not as fast as David “Ross” Schwimmer’s fading career, but pretty darn fast none the less!

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