Madagascar (U)



Family (2005)
86mins US

Starring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo have lived in captivity since birth, in the plush surroundings of New York's Central Park Zoo. The outside world remains a mystery to the animals so one night, Marty follows the penguins - Private, Rico, Skipper and Kowalski - and breaks out of the zoo to explore the city. When Alex, Melman and Gloria realise that their pal is gone, they too escape with the intention of returning Marty to his home before the keepers notice they are missing.

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LondonNet Film Review

Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo have lived in captivity since birth, in the plush surroundings of New York's Central Park Zoo. The outside world remains a mystery to the animals so one night, Marty enlists the help of the penguins - Private, Rico, Skipper and Kowalski - to break out of the zoo and explore the city. When Alex, Melman and Gloria realise that their pal is gone, they too escape with the intention of returning Marty to his home before the keepers notice they are missing (PA).

Zoo Animals Gone Wild
Madagascar releases their latest try at animation into the cinema wild...

In the long-awaited Dreamworks picture to follow-up Shark Tales, Madagascar combines the voice talents of Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith in a visually stunning but generally lacking cartoon about post-zoo traumatic stress disorder.

The visions of wild grandeur - complete with shimmering ocean, dancing foilage and even the palacial space of New York's Grand Central Station, combined with the wily movements of the animals, bring the keen eye of animation above standard. Yet somehow, the plot and characters drop and roll, and the viewer is left wandering with the other jungle animals. Ben Stiller as a lion is believable only until his signature hem-and-hawwing catapults him back on a plane to Meet the Parents; David Schwimmer's hypochondriac giraffe is kindly distilling, and Jada Pinkett Smith's curvy hippo is cooling but mediocre. The only comic relief to bound past the left side of dull are the highly organised penguins, whose hole-digging, ship turning antics are highly refreshing.

This is a kid's film, however, and while some of us shaperones might be hoping for the intelligence of Shrek or the cheek of The Incredibles, you can bet a little zoo-animals-gone-wild will provide at least a few solid summer giggles.

Megan M. Retka


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