Review: Madagascar

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The co-director of Antz, Eric Darnell, teams up with fellow animator Tom McGrath and two comedy writers, Mark Burton and Billy Frolick, to sculpt out a story about some zoo animals who mistakenly end up being reintroduced back into the wild.

Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) love their pampered lives as zoo animals in New York's Central Park Zoo. Their friend, Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), is a little restless at the idea of spending the rest of his days in such a confined space. He yearns for wide open spaces.

One day, Marty gets an unexpected visit from a burrowing troupe of penguins who are hatching a master plan to escape back to Antarctica. Marty decides maybe he can make his dream come true. Through a series of mishaps and madcap adventures, the foursome of zoo animals will learn all about life and the world outside. Some are sure to enjoy it more than others.

Madagascar is a new, clever, and hilarious family film much in the same vein as the Shrek films. Like the Shrek films, Madagascar is full of clever comedic pop culture references and zany celebrity voices.

The stand-out celebrity voices this time around are Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Sacha Baron Cohen (best known as TV's Ali G). Rock is unmistakable as the identity-confused zebra. Schwimmer is perfect as the hypochondriac giraffe. But as celebrities go, Cohen outshines the A-list stars as the overly energetic leader of the lemurs. Cohen is brilliant.

But for me, the favorite of the film was Skipper, the leader of the penguins who was voiced by co-director Tom McGrath. Anytime those penguins were on screen I was in stitches. They have so much magic and character, they deserve their own movie or maybe a short on the DVD.

The film does have a rather slow beginning, and I felt that the film was more fun when it didn't focus on the 4 central characters. This film is all about the supporting players, and to sustain a great animated film we need to relate and adore the central characters. Here, all we seem to remember and cherish when we are done are the penguins and lemurs.

Come on DreamWorks, give us more penguin madness. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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