Welcome to the jungle, kids: Parents should be cautious about cartoon
Summit County Correspondent
“Madagascar” is an excellent film for kids. But for me, it didn’t get exciting until the lion found his wild side.
For kids, I’m sure the first half of the movie is just as interesting as the second. Painted in bold color, it features a funky 10-year-old zebra ” fueled by Chris Rock’s excited-pitch voice ” who wants to break out of his New York zoo, a lion (Ben Stiller) who loves his fame as a performer and wants nothing to do with the wild, a hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer) and a hip hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith).
The animals break out of the zoo, only to find themselves stranded in Madagascar with a group of rave-crazed lemurs (featuring Cedric the Entertainer). It’s here in the open jungle that the lion begins to find his beastly side, which threatens his friendship with the zebra (because you can’t have a best friend once you eat him).
Though the spoofs on popular movies ranging from “Saturday Night Fever” and “Chariots of Fire” to “American Beauty” and “Castaway” are fun, the pop-culture references in “Shrek 2” far exceeded those of “Madagascar” in wit.
Each animal’s personality is unique enough to feel a connection with, but not memorable enough to stay with you after the credits roll. However, I have to give extra credit to “Madagascar” for side-waddling the cute-penguin stereotype and creating psychotic, scheming penguins who have a “South Park” moment at the South Pole.
Overall, “Madagascar” rates as an average animation. Like Dan said, it has all the elements. The problem is, we’ve seen all of those elements. If you have kids, it’s a great way to spend 86 minutes that, to a nonparent, feel more like 120 minutes ” but I’m guessing hearing your kids chuckle would make the movie go faster.
The only thing that bothers me about “Madagascar” and some other supposed kids’ movies are the near-bad language. I can understand a sly adult-theme reference that kids won’t register, but why have the zebra come perilously close to uttering the queen mother of obscenities and cut him off? It doesn’t add humor; it would just irritate me if I were a parent.
Still, the fun characters, the color, the scenery and the theme of friendship make “Madagascar” a pretty solid animation that kids will love and adults won’t groan (too much) watching.
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