Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter
Written by: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Mark Burton, Billy Frolick
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language, crude humor and some thematic elements
Running Time: 86
Date: 05/25/2005

Madagascar (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Zoo Blander

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath have attempted, with their new computer animated film Madagascar, to copy the manic, bouncy animation of masters like Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, and they've accomplished a speedy, fluid result. Unfortunately, the script (by Darnell and McGrath, with Mark Burton and Billy Frolick) consists of the usual combination of fart jokes and pop culture references. If we're not suffering poo-flinging or butt-biting, we get the theme songs from Chariots of Fire and "Hawaii Five-O." Chris Rock stars as the voice of Marty, a zebra at the Manhattan zoo who dreams of living in the wild. When he breaks out, his best friends Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Melman the giraffe (voiced David Schwimmer) and Gloria the hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith) follow. Due to unforeseen circumstances, they wind up in Africa and must learn to adapt to their new surroundings. Predictably, the characters follow the perceived personalities of their actors. The lion is arrogant, the giraffe is neurotic and the hippo is motherly, and they all learn to loosen up. Rock manages a fairly touching performance, but he's upstaged by four penguins who steal the entire show. Deadpan and crafty, the penguins represent everything the rest of the story is not. Sacha Baron Cohen also stars, voicing a King Lemur that sings a catchy dance tune, while Cedric the Entertainer and Andy Richter voice his sidekicks.

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