CGI-animated films have become a commodity now, haven't they? Back in the day when only Pixar was doing these films, we were assured that they would be good. Even when Dreamworks got into the mix with "Shrek," I still had a lot of confidence in the new generation of animated films. But things have changed over the last year. Theaters have been hit with a series of so-so releases such as "Shark Tale" and "Robots," which have shaken confidence in the guaranteed goodness of the genre.
Thankfully, "Madagscar" rises to the occasion. As one might expect it does not compare to any of the Pixar films or even the "Shrek" series, but it is a quality little film with funny characters and goofy entertainment the whole family will enjoy. Plot takes a second seat to crazy antics, but "Madagascar" has enough of them that you'll be laughing out loud for at least half the movie.
"Madagascar" follows the tale of a zebra (Chris Rock), a lion (Ben Stiller), a giraffe (David Schwimmer) and a hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) from the Central Park Zoo who accidentally end up on the island of Madagscar, which unfortunately for them is only populated by a bunch of crazy lemurs.
The movie starts off slow as many of the jokes in the beginning fall flat, but once the animals finally make their break everything starts picking up. Things become goofier and the jokes start coming faster and faster until, finally, the script is just a non-stop barrage of hilarious antics. Again, there isn't much plot, but you'll laugh anyway.
There are two highlights of the film, one being the psychotic penguins, the other being Mort the Mouse Lemur (voiced by Andy Richter). Every time Mort was on screen I was cracking up.
On the other end of the spectrum, Smith's hippo is downright dull. The funniest lines they could give her are poorly-done "black women" lines such as "Don't go there" or "No you didn't." Puh-lease!
"Madagscar" isn't a great film, but it's one of the better non-Pixar movies to grace the big screen. It takes a little while to get going, but once it does it's non-stop laughs until the closing credits.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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