At the Central Park Zoo, Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) is celebrating his tenth birthday, but longs to see the rest of the world from outside their pampered life at the zoo. Believing that he can find wide-open spaces to run in Connecticut, he joins with the zoo’s penguins who are trying to escape the zoo. Marty’s friends, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), realize Marty’s folly and try to follow him. The four, along with the penguins (consisting of Skipper (McGrath), Rico (John DiMaggio), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Private (Christopher Knights) and two monkeys, Mason (Conrad Vernon) and Phil, eventually find themselves at Grand Central Station, but are quickly sedated by tranquilizer darts. The zoo, under protest of animal-rights activists, are forced to ship the animals by sea to Kenya. During their travels, the penguins manage to escape and take over the ship, intent on taking it to Antarctica. Their antics on the bridge cause the crates containing Marty, Alex, Gloria, and Melman to fall off the boat and wash ashore on Madagascar.

The animals are soon able to regroup, initially believing themselves to be in San Diego, California. Upon exploring, however, they come across a pack of lemurs lead by King Julien XIII (Sacha Baron Cohen), and quickly learn of their location. Alex blames Marty for their predicament and attempts to signal for help to get back to civilization, while Marty finds the wild to be exactly what he was looking for, with Gloria and Melman soon joining him in enjoying the island. Alex eventually comes around, though his hunting instincts begin to return after being away from the pampered zoo life for so long. The group is accepted by the lemurs, though King Julien’s adviser, Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), cautions them about Alex being a predator. King Julien ignores Maurice’s concerns and persuades the group to help the lemurs fend off the fossa who hunt the lemurs as prey. When Alex begins to turn on his friends and the lemurs, unable to overcome his instincts, King Julien bans him to the far side of the island with the fossa. Marty begins to regret seeing what Alex has turned into.

The penguins, having been to Antarctica and finding it not to their liking, land the boat on Madagascar. Seeing this as a chance to return Alex to New York, Marty, with Gloria and Melman, goes to find Alex but become trapped by the fossa. Alex suddenly appears and approaches Marty as if he were prey, but then turns on the fossa to scare them away from the lemur territory forever, showing Marty he has overcome his predatory nature, and satisfy his meat craving through sushi instead of steak. As lemurs throw a bon voyage celebration for the foursome, the penguins decide not to break the news that the ship has run out of fuel and that they are still stuck on the island, setting the stage for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. 


In the realm of animation, there are very few that can rival the masterful level of Pixar. Dreamworks is still light-years away, but they are the closest. Look no further than Madagascar to see what I mean.

The character have a sort of crude look to them, yet still are very well animated. The details of the water, Alex’s mane, and the wet looks of Gloria and the penguins really shows how detailed the animators were.

The characters of this film each have their own idiosyncrasies, many of which are representative of the actor that voices them. Ben Stiller brings Alex, the lion, to life. Alex is a performer, or better yet, a showboat. Little to his knowledge, he has been denying his killer instinct. After his raw rage comes to the surface he goes into seclusion to either get it under control or avoid eating his friends…the real reason is up to debate. Stiller is perfect casting.

Chris Rock is the voice behind Marty, the zebra. Marty wishes for something more than the zoo, as he feels as if he hasn’t accomplished anything in his 10 yrs of life. Marty and Rock are similar in that they both think wish for something more when they have a nice life as it is…i.e. the “Man” is holding them down.

In ironic casting, we have Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria, the hippo. As tiny as Jada is, it’s rather hilarious that she’s one of, if not the largest character in the film. Her sassy attitude are a perfect fit for Gloria, though.

David Schwimmer is Melman, the giraffe. Melman is an extreme hypochondriac. What is interesting is that he isn’t that far removed from Schwimmer’s character on Friends,and Schwimmer himself. All 3 are very similar.

The penguins steal the show. No wonder they were given their own show. King Julien is pretty entertaining as well.

There are lots of references to popular films in here. They seem to be put in there to appease the parents and older viewers, though, because they are of films that the target audience would have no business watching. Still, they don’t seem out of place, as they do when other films just randomly stick pop culture references in to seem “hip” and “now”.

The idea of a bunch of animals escaping a zoo has been done before, but never like this. The antics that they get into before, during, and after they arrive in Madagascar are hilarious, and as I said before the penguins and King Julien steal the show.

5 out of 5 stars

4 Responses to “Madagascar”

  1. […] original Madagascar is one of the best animated films I’ve seen to come out of a studio not named Pixar, and the […]

  2. […] design. In the first Madagascar, there was a look to the characters. It was almost as if they were crude cut outs or something. […]

  3. […] their own. We were first introduced to the penguins way back in the first Madagascar movie. Seeing as how they, and apparently King Julien, have been the breakout stars of that […]

  4. […] Animation and the director of Madagascar invite you to meet a most unusual baby. He wears a suit, speaks with the voice and wit of Alec […]

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