In a world where traditional animation has been replaced in just about every medium, whether it is TV, feature films or even commercials we knew this day would come, and come it has, Madagascar is the epitome of failure, which is saying a lot considering making a kids film entertaining shouldn’t be too hard.
This is normally where I would go into the storyline for the film, but that is exactly where our problem lies… it isn’t there. The story is designed around Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) as he has recently learned from a group of zoo escaping penguins that the “wild” is the place to be, unfortunately his buddies, Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), aren’t exactly keen on the idea of leaving the comforts of the Central Park Zoo.
Marty doesn’t care, he is checking out, but he doesn’t get far as he along with the penguins and, of course, Alex, Melman and Gloria are all caught at Grand Central Station in the middle of their zoo-break. Oh yeah, I should have mentioned Marty’s disagreeing friends were there trying to stop him.
From there the animals are put on the next boat to Africa and thanks to the penguins the boat is hijacked with a new course set for Antarctica, but while that is happening, the crates carrying our four main characters are all tossed overboard and end up washing up on the shores of Madagascar where the story moves forward very, very… very little.
Aside from the comedy not being all that funny the fact that this film, which coincidentally only runs for 80 minutes, goes absolutely nowhere. The only redeeming factor of the film are the penguins, which happen to only be featured in about 10-15 minutes of the entire film. On top of that it should be mentioned that story creator Eric Darnell initially wanted it to be a film featuring nothing but the penguins, but when music rights fell through the film that would have been Rockumentary, a spoof based on the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” starring four penguins fell through as well and in came the idea of the four animals escaping the zoo.
This story has nowhere to go and that is exactly where it goes, there is no real conflict, just mindless bickering between the featured players and it simply becomes a nuisance until they all learn to just get along. DreamWorks Animation had a moderate hit on their hands with Shark Tale last year, which ultimately pulled in an Oscar nomination, but Madagascar is certain to under perform. It seems as if this movie was dumbed down so far that even 5-year-old kids are going to look at it and say, “That is it?”