Review by Michael Jacobson
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron
Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: November 14, 2005
and cuddly, boys...cute and cuddly."
is a zany
comedy filled with slapstick, in-jokes, and a major-league fish out of water
syndrome. The fact that it's also a
computer animated flick with some great voice talents behind it adds to the fun.
centers around four loveable animals: Marty
the restless zebra (Rock), Alex the ham-handed lion (Stiller), Gloria the
no-nonsense hippo (Smith), and Melman, the hypochondriac giraffe (Schwimmer).
They live in the Central Park Zoo in New York, where their lives consist
of entertaining the guests, and...well, not much else.
feels there must be more to life than their coddled existence, but his best
friend Alex can't imagine life outside the zoo, where he's the mane...er, main
attraction! But soon, he'll have
to...thanks to Marty's bungled attempt at a big city adventure, the people
decide that captive life is cruel for the foursome...they're about to be sent
back to the wild where they belong!
end up on the island of Madagascar, where they have to deal with things they
never dealt with before: namely, a
world divided up into predator vs. prey. Some
friendly but less-than-bright lemurs believe Alex is a hero come to save them
from their "fossa" enemies. But what does a lion do when the call of the wild answers?
And for that matter, what do four savvy New York animals do when
confronted with the ultimate game of Survivor?
it's a simple comic premise, and a tried-and-true one.
What makes the film work is the adorability of the animal characters, who
look more like plush toys than the real things.
Watch out for the pesky army of penguins determined to get back to
Antarctica (leading to a great payoff), or the impossibly cute lemur voiced by
Cedric the Entertainer. Or for that
matter, the cultured monkeys, who want to go see Tom Wolfe in order to...well,
better see that for yourself.
a comedy, it doesn't take many false steps.
The script is lively with jokes, including a few aimed squarely at the
grown-ups. The references to The
Twilight Zone, Cast Away and Planet of the Apes are all priceless.
quartet of stars is what makes the characters work, and the characters is what
makes the film work. I suppose the
point is that if friends stick together, even animal ones, they can get through
anything. Even if they have to
learn to live like the wild beasts they really are!
animation and DVD? You don't get
many marriages better than that. This
movie is colorful and rich in detail, and nothing gets lost in the anamorphic
transfer. Dreamworks never
disappoints in the video department, and Madagascar is no exception.
5.1 audio mix is good, but not quite as lively as I would have hoped.
Sounds are crisp and clean throughout, but there is only sparing use of
the rear channels and subwoofer. Dynamic
range is above average, and dialogue is well-rendered throughout.
are extras for young and old alike on this disc...if you want to hear more about
the film itself, listen to the filmmakers' commentary track, or if you want more
of the penguins, choose their scene-specific chat for more laughs.
is a blooper reel, a look at the voices that brought the characters to life, a
behind-the-scenes featurette, a look at the technology of the film, production
notes and talent bios. There is a
look at the real Madagascar, a music video for "I Like to Move It, Move
It", and several fun games and activities for the kiddies.
You can also watch the theatrical short "A Christmas Caper",
starring the penguins!
speaking of those flightless waterfowl, while you peruse the menus, keep an eye
out for the penguin footprints: they
lead you to code letters. Put them
together, and you get to play an interactive 3D game with the penguins.