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Laramie Movie Scope: Madagascar

A kiddie cartoon that doesn't quite make the grade

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 14, 2005 -- “Madagascar” is a mediocre animated film that tries to appeal to both the kiddie crowd and adults at the same time. It misses both targets. It has pratfalls for the kids and movie in-jokes for the adults. There is even a reference to a television show which first aired over 40 years ago, “The Twilight Zone.” There are also references to the movies “Chariots of Fire,” “Born Free” and the TV show “Wild Kingdom” in the film's musical score.

The film starts off slowly with a fairly boring conversation between Alex the lion and Marty the zebra. It takes a while to get going. The action finally starts when the animals break out of a zoo and are eventually washed up on the Madagascar shore. A group of psychotic penguins takes over the ship and heads to Antarctica, leaving Alex, Marty, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippopotamus stranded.

Most cartoons which have predators as characters don't deal with the fact that predators have to kill other animals in order to live. In this movie, Alex and Marty are best friends, even though Marty is Alex's natural prey. This movie does deal with this issue very directly. Alex has lived in a zoo his whole life and has been fed steaks. He doesn't know he is a predator. Eventually, the story does find a way to deal with this issue without Alex having to kill anyone. It is a phony solution to the predator issue, but it works well enough for kids.

The movie also has other predators who serve as the film's villains. The king of the local lemur population cooks up a scheme to make friends with Alex so he can protect them from the local predators, who are all smaller than a lion. The scheme works pretty well until the lemurs discover Alex is a predator, and that he is hungry. The movie's message is that you never know who your real friends are until you really need them to help you. The movie has a few laughs, more for kids than adults. It is nowhere near as good a film as “Shrek” or “The Incredibles.” It is not even quite as good as “Shark Tale.” It is not the sort of movie you want to pay full price for. A cheap rental of the DVD would be about right. This seems like a movie better suited to kids than adults. For kids, it rates a C+, for adults, it rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)