Review: Madagascar (2005)

Madagascar (2005)

Directed by: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath | 86 minutes | animation, comedy, family, adventure | Original voice cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Eric Darnell, David Cowgill, Stephen Apostolina, Elisa Gabrielli , Bob Saget, David P. Smith, Cody Cameron

Anyone who regularly visits an American animation film knows that he should not expect old-fashioned dwarfs, deer, princes and princesses there these days. If there are persons of royal blood at all, there is usually a stitch loose and the latter also applies to most animals. In Dreamworks’ latest production ‘Madagascar’ (‘Shrek’, ‘A Shark Tale’), we’re confronted by a hypochondriac giraffe, a zebra in midlife crisis, a star-looking lion and four cool, nah, ultra-cool penguins. And of course with King Julien the 13th, the swinging and cheeky leader of the ring-tailed lemurs.

Not only those twisted characters meet the current trend in animation land, the humor in ‘Madagascar’ is also of this time. Jokes for both young and old, with a remarkably high slapstick content in this case. In terms of plot, it’s all a bit thin, but because of the high joke density that doesn’t really matter. In addition, the characters have just a little more depth than classic cartoon characters. For example, the tame and vain lion Alex on Madagascar gets to know the predator in himself, with all the associated psychological problems.
The voices in ‘Madagascar’ are well cast. Especially David Schwimmer and Chris Rock as Melman and Marty stand out, but the voices of Jada Pinkett Smith and Ben Stiller also fit well with their characters. The music is trendy and festive and the animations look slick, again showing how enormously expressive cartoon characters can be these days. The only downside is that at the end we get the inevitable moral lesson pushed down our throats, about friendship and fidelity. A wise lesson perhaps, but above all a superfluous one.

Although ‘Madagascar’ is certainly a success, the film has one major drawback. After brilliant animation films such as ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Shrek’, the bar for new animation films has been set very high. It is therefore not entirely fair to compare every new animation with these masterful predecessors. Because despite the fact that ‘Madagascar’ does not reach the level of the aforementioned films, it absolutely guarantees an hour and a half of top entertainment for young and old. At least as much fun as a visit to the zoo and a lot cheaper too. So not a difficult choice.

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