Hello, Spongey here.
You all remember my failed attempt at a Dreamworks- a thon, right? Well, I said I would review the Dreamworks film I felt needed a full on review.
And this is one of them. As far as Dreamworks films go, it’s not one of their biggest. But it’s also one of the most marketed, and they ALWAYS mention in ads for their latest movie.
It’s very much the poster boy for their ‘joke-y” films. For better or for or worse, this represents their “funny” side. Which is interesting, since it’s not as big as Shrek or something.
This one got mixed reviews, as some people like, but others don’t. It was mostly “Meh” for the critics, but people I respect like Ani-Mat and Doug walker like it.
What do I think it? Well…i also kind of like it.
Why? Well, that’s why I’m here. It’s time for my last review before school starts…and it’s of a film that’s not a fitting summer end. Ah well, I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile anyway.
This, is Madagascar
The movie starts with a weird scene of a zebra prancing in the jungle, with a chorus by a bunch of a penguins. A Lion shows up in front of him.
And boom, it turns out to be the dream of our hero, Marty the zebra, voiced by Chris Rock. The lion is his best friend alex, voiced by Ben Stiller.
Marty is…well Chris rock, all black and sassy, Except he’s not annoying, and he acts like a normal person. It’s his birthday and Alex gives a snowglove with him in it. Alex is vain cuz he’s the star attraction of the zoo. He’s like somewhat likable as the movie goes on.
Marty is bored with his usual routine, and wants more, cuz this is now a disney film instead of a dreamworks film. But now it’s time for the zoo to open, as we are introduced to the other characters.
Such as Gloria, the sassy hippo voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith, and the awkward allergy prone giraffe Melman, voiced by David Schwimer. Melman is funny, but Gloria, while amusing, isn’t given as much to do as the others.
We also see two monkeys, one who is all British-y and one who only uses sign language. They are mostly joke characters, but they are pretty funny. Also, Phil’s sign language Is actually completely accurate, even in the spinoff TV series. Cool!
Anyway, like I said, Alex is a big star performing at the zoo and we see his performance as he has hundreds of adoring fans. It’s also here we meet The Penguins.
Oh yeah, the penguins. Four Penguins who act like (misguided) secret agents. Skipper (voiced by Director Tim Mcgraw) the leader, Kowlaski the brains, Private the rookie, and Rico the crazy one. The rest are voiced by other Dreamworks staff members.
They are the breakout characters for a reason. Like everyone, I think they steal the show with their hilarious antics. They even got their own tV show, which I also like.
“We’ve broken our last shovel”
Said shovel is a spoon. Haw.
“Today we’re gonna blow this dump”
We cut to later as the zoo closes. The penguins show up in Marty’s pen, as they failed to dig out of the zoo. Marty asks what is going on, and they explain that they are digging to Antarctica.
“The wild? You can actually go there?”
If you want to watch a crappy Disney movie, yes.
“You didn’t see anything”
The penguins leave, and that night, we see the animals are pretty much pampered. After that, it’s time for Marty’s birthday party, as we see some amusing interactions between the animals.
The camaraderie between these characters pretty much carries most of the movie. I won’t show off most of it, cuz I have a plot to cover, but they get some decent jokes out of this. Though there are some lame jokes, like when Marty gets Melman’s rectal thermometer. Ew.
Anyway, Marty makes his birthday wish, which he reveals to his friend.
“I wished I could go…to the wild!”
They don’t take it well. They think it’s the worst idea ever, but Marty wishes to be out in some wild open spaces.
“There might be more to life than Steak, Alex”
Alex does not agree. He’s a bit of carnivore when it comes to food, except for the eating other animals party. We’ll get to that later.
No one cares that they don’t anything about life outside of the zoo. So Marty just brushes it off and walks away. However, Alex is forced to talk to Marty about all this while everone else goes to sleep.
“Look at me, I’m ten years old. My life is half over! I don’t even know if i’m black with white stripes, and black with white stripes”
Spoilers, they are black with white stripes.
Anyway, Alex tries to cheer him up, but Marty wants Alex to join him out in the wild. Then he lies and says he’s joking once he knows Alex won’t do it.
So Alex goes to sleep, while there’s a cute little moment with Marty thinking about stuff. However, a couple hours later, Melman shows up (he needed to take a piss) and says Marty is gone.
Of course, they know he’s headed off to the wild…of Connecticut. That was a bit I skipped before. They think Marty is all lost, but we see that he’s doing perfectly fine on the streets of new york.
By the way, NO ONE reacts to seeing a Zebra walking around.
So the other animals (plus the monkeys) break out of the zoo to go catch up with Marty.They end up in the subway where they have some amusing jokes. The people react HERE, seeing a lion on a subway.
I love this bit, where everything is all silent while the one human cowers in fear of the other animals. He’s holding up a newspaper, and Alex roars but..
“Aw! Knicks lost again!”
It’s funnier on screen, but whatever. So anyway, they all end up in Grand Central Station. More people freak out, including an old lady who beats up Alex in a pretty funny bit.
Remember that..it comes back….in the sequel.
They bump into Marty, and they are pissed that he ran away. But there’s no time as shit tons of cops show up and surround everyone. Also, the penguins were there too, as are the monkeys.
Alex tries to talk to the humans…but it just comes out as Roars to everyone. The animals are obvious to this, though. Alex’s “plan” fails as he is hit with a tranquilizer joke.
He gets knocked out, as there’s um…a trippy weird dream scene that’s really funny but I can’t really sum It up well.
Alex wakes up as a lady is saying how these animals don’t belong in captivity. Alex tries to speak up, but he gets hit again and we see the trippy scene again…sped up. Love it.
Again, he wakes up, but this time in a crate. The others are in their own crate. They figure out that it’s a zoo transfer but Alex is extra pissed at Marty.
“You bit the hand, Marty”
Back out to reveal the crates are on a ship….headed to Kenya. The penguins are there too, and they aren’t happy with Kenya. So they break out and head out. But as that awesomeness is going on, Alex and the animals argue a lot.
Honestly, it’s hard to really show how amusing this film can be when it comes to the character interactions. Since most of their dislodge isn’t quite quotable enough to stop the review for it. But trust me, the voice actors and animation alone makes these interactions fun, even if it isn’t always FunNY.
The penguins take out the ship’s captain and turn the ship around. However, the crates fall off in the process. So yeah, the penguins head start the plot of the whole series. Great.
Not too long later, Alex washes up on the beach, with no one else in sight. Thankfully, the next morning he bumps into Melman in his crate that washed up.
Gloria washes up a few moments later. And finally, Marty shows up as well. Having reunited, Alex and Marty do a slow motion run until Alex gets pissed off which makes it funny.
“Oh, Sugar Honey Iced Tea!”
You know-for kids!
After they finish that, the animals have trouble figuring out where they are….Melman thinks it’s San Diego. Everyone thinks so too. I like that they don’t make the animals all smart and aware of all that crazy human stuff.
They are kind of dumb, like real animals. Only you know, not. Gloria seems to be the smartest but even she isn’t 100 percent in the know a lot of the time.
They hear music in the jungle, so they head in to see what is up. After some amusing slapstick with Alex bumping into things as they run, they make it to the big hub of the jungle.
And of course, it’s full of dancing lemurs. And yes, we hear that damn “I like to move it move it” song that they LOVED pushing in all the trailers. Of course it didn’t get as bad as af-….actually, we’ll get to that another time.
The song is catchy, and they only play it once, which is here. So I don’t mind it. It’s here where we meet King Julien, voiced by Sasha Baron Coen. As The Nostalgia Critic pointed it recently, he does play the same role in everyone, but here it works cuz it’s animation and also it’s funny.
“I just saw 26 different health code violations”
“This place is off the chizian!”
Instead of jumping into the party, they stay back cuz Alex vanished. Suddenly, the lemurs scatter cuz their enemy, the Foosa shows up. Alex shows up and they walk in and see the Foosa.
Cuz he’s a lion, the Foosa are scared shitless and run away. The animals stuff run away to get a spider, and the lemurs are also scared of them.
We also see Julien’s assistant Maurice, voiced by Cedric the entertainer. A pointless casting choice, but I like the character enough.
There’s also the adore Lemur Mort, who is the butt monkey here and in the spin off show. In that show, he has a fetish for Julien’s feet. Yes.
They want to see if our animal friends are evil or not. So they send Mort out, cuz again, Butt monkey. Of course they are nice and try to calm Mort down.
“They are just a bunch of pansies!”
So they run out and greet the animals. Julien acts all high and mighty as he thanks the animals for chasing away the Foosa. The animals introduce themselves.
“All Hail, the new York giants!”
They quickly find out there are no Humans here, as this is the wild. Alex…is not happy. Infact, he’s desperate to go back to New York. They run back to the beach and try to think about this.
Marty however, is very happy, but Melman is with Alex on this one. Alex however, takes a stand and does the THIS IS MY SIDE thing, as he splits the island up. One side has Marty, the other side has the rest.
“You’re on the Jersey side of this Cesspool!”
Later, Marty is having luck making his own hut while the others have had no luck trying to contact anyone. The whole section where the animals are at ends may be the most fun segment of the movie.
I just like seeing these characters bounce off each other, and this whole island split thing is a perfect example of this. There’s a weak joke where Alex builds a Statue of liberty to get attention from someone, and they end burning down. The weak part?
“You maniacs! You burned it up! Darn you! Darn you all to heck”
That night, everyone but Alex moves to Marty’s side, but Alex is still stubborn. Marty goes over and tries to get Alex to give his side a chance. Oh, and Alex used sticks to build a big HELP sign..but part of it comes off, so it says Hell.
You know-for kids!
Marty is still his friend, so he heads over to his side and apologizes for being a jerk. The fun side is a “high tech” hut thingy and the drink is Sea Water (you don’t drink it) and the food is Seaweed.
The animals look up at the stars, something you could never do in New York. Cute moment, I must say.
And then we cut to Antarctica with the penguins. Antarctica is incredibly bare with no one else there.
“….Well, this sucks”
Best thing in the whole movie.
The next morning, the lemurs have taken the animals to their hub to give them a big Madagascar welcome.
“Welcome to Madagascar!”
Marty looks out an sees something that looks exactly like his mural at the zoo, and by extension the landscape in the opening. Marty gets Alex to run with him, and Alex gets a bit too into it. In a good way.
Alex starts to feel like his old self, and he even does his act from back home. However, it’s here when Alex goes a bit…crazy. He starts seeing everyone as food, he does a crazy roar, and he….um…I’ll let Marty take it from here.
“You’re biting my butt!”’
There’s the trailer line.
As you can imagine, this is awkward for everyone. Well, maybe not Julien.
“Whats a little bite on the butt between Friends?”
Did I mention Julien is very much gay?
Maurice sees this as prove that Alex is food crazy and will eat his friends. Julien even starts to buy it and decides to banish Alex to the foosa side of the island. Alex can’t fight back…cuz he’s seeing everyone as Steak.
All this time on the island is getting to him. He’s starting to give into his carnivore instincts. After all, lions eat other animals. It’s not at the point where he has tries to eat his friend.
I can’t say I’ve seen this in a kid’s movie. It’s a surprisingly good conflict, which ends up being “Complex” AND funny. Some have given Doug flack for praising this simply cuz it’s not the liar revealed. Maybe this is a cliché but I’VE never seen it a movie like this.
So I say it’s good. Alex then starts going full lion and start roaring and chasing after Marty. At least until Maurice knocks him to the ground. Alex immediately snaps back and feels regret.
“What is wrong eith me?! What have I done? ….I’m a monster”
So he runs off, while the friends walk off while some music plays. So wait, as soon as they get fully into the island, Alex is cast out and we’re now about an hour in?
Huh, that’s some poor pacing when the think about it. However, the ride is much fun and the story itself works so well that…i don’t mind. It didn’t hit me until I thought about it.
This is still a very nice moment as Alex reflects on what he did. He admits he’s not cut out for the normal island life, so he goes to live with the Foosa. They make sure to insert good visuals gags during this bit to make it fun AND kind of sad.
In spite of pacing issues, this scene still hits as it’s not too sad or too silly. Anyway, Marty feels regret and the gang feels they need to help Alex. But…then on the beach they spy a boat coming!
Because of this, Melman and Gloria figure that the people will know what to do, and that they should let it go. However, Alex is Marty’s friend and he wants to do this. Then the boat docks and the penguins walk out/
Yep, they ditched Antarctica and ended up here. While they explain this, Marty walks off to save Alex. Alex is on a big rock while thinking of steak again. Marty shows up to tell him the good news about the boat.
“You’re no monster, you are my friend”
Alex roars and says he doesn’t want to hurt him., but he can’t seem to fight it. Alex hides but Marty says he doesn’t want to leave with him. Now this is a very sweet moment.
Marty tries to break the ice with a song that Alex cheered him up with earlier. And then the Foosa show up to attack Marty. They get the jump on him, and then who would show up but Melman?
Well of course he’s the one who gets an awesome moment…along with Gloria and the penguins. A fun battle ensues and Alex pops up to go crazy on the Foosa.
Alex pretends to go kill crazy on Marty to distract the foosa.
“Thanks for not giving up on me marty”
And so he puts up on a show by scaring the Foosa and saying these animals are his. This is a damn awesome moment with Alex kicking Foosa ass. They run off and the day is saved.
“So, what’s for lunch?”
Sushi, cuz they are eating some made by the penguins at the beach in the next scene. Anyway pacing issues this movie had can be forgiven for that awesome climax. Alex loves the shushi and admits it’s as good as steak.
Marty gives a speech about how Alex’s heart is as big as his stomach. Marty says he doesn’t care where they are, as long as they are together. Cute.
But they will go back to New york anyway. Julien thanks Alex and the gang by giving Alex his crown. It’s okay cuz he has a bigger crown. With a Gecko on it!
So they all get on the ship and everyone waves goodbye, thankful that the Foosa are gone for good. The friends are happy having gotten past Alex’s issues. They even think that they could head around the world before going back to New York.
“I wouldn’t even mind coming back here sometime”
“Skipper. Don’t you think we should tell them the boat’s out of gas?’
“..nah, just smile and wave boys”
Roll credits. Huh, somewhat a rushed ending in spite of a very well done climax. Kind of hurts the movie. But…the ending joke is great so I can’t complain. This review felt normal paced at parts, and short at others. Though it is about 3000 words at this point.
I’m sure if I wasn’t doing this off my TV, it would go slower. But this is how the movie is paced, so again, I can’t complain.
As far as Dreamworks’ films go, this is no Shrek or How to Train your Dragon. But it may be one of their better comedy films. I actually like it more than Over the Hedge and the like. And I like it a lot!
The story isn’t anything huge, but it’s nice and simple It goes in decent directions, including some interesting conflicts. It’s a surprisingly solid story for a movie like this. I see now overdone cliches or anything bad in the story. It actually works in spite of how simple it is.
The characters are all a lot of fun. Marty makes for a sympathetic character and his dreams of wanting more thankfully don’t come across as cliché. Chris Rock does a good job as he does his schtick while not being annoying. Infact, aside from a bits, I could hardly tell it was him!
I mean that in a good way. Gloria and Melman don’t get a ton to do, but they have good jobs, and again, the actors are very good job. Sasha is excellent as the wacky King Julien and he’s delightful.
Perhaps the stand out is Alex, as he is the funniest and gets some surprising emotional depth. I love how vain he is, and how he has to lean to adapt in the world, and how he can’t handle it. Ben Stiller does a very nice job at conveying this, and I really liked. He’s actually my favorite character for this reason.
But everyone is nice and they all get good comedy by just the interactions. I didn’t address the animation cuz I wanted to save it for here. It’s…alright. Nothing too special. My problem is that it looks a little cheap at times and can look like a PS 2 at some points.
To be fair, Dreamworks was experimenting with animation styles at the time. This one is a bit more Cartoon-y and I think it works best in the more energetic moment. I agree with Doug when he says the speed of the animation is good and you can tell that the animators are trying hard to squeeze laughs at the mere movement
And it works! It’s a nice style, but the textures look a little, and I think if they rendered it a bit better, I think it could have looked nicer. But I do like the “limited” style at points. But the animation will get better with the sequels.
It’s also a decent comedy ,even if not every joke hits. Even when there isn’t a funny joke, sometimes the facial expressions or just the interactions themselves can be amusing to watch
As a whole Madagascar is an enjoyable comedy that has a very nice sweet spot. However, the pacing can be a bit wacked witch COULD make it the weakest of the trilogy. However, the comedy, sweet momens, and climax make up for it.
It has a decent story, fun animation, and a good sense of humor. I see why not a lot of people got into it, but I enjoy it a lot. I say, check it out if you can.
Ah, two good movies in a row….Yep, i’m doing a bad one next time. Happy end of Summer break!