Dreamworks Scores Big By Sinking Low With Madagascar

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Madagascar (2005)

Released: May 27th, 2005

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Starring:  Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Dave Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath,

Opening Thoughts:

There was a time in my life where I became disinterested in the animated film. The great ride of the 1990’s Disney renaissance was incredible.  That was what I grew up with and loved. Even the earlier works of the 2000’s had multiple success stories. However, the mid-2000’s specifically 2003 through 2007 really felt lacking.  Part of this group of mediocre animated films was Madagascar.

Plot:

Marty the zebra in the Central Park Zoo is having a mid-life crisis and he desires to go back to Africa and live as his ancestors did. Meanwhile, the other animals have grown accustomed to the sweet life of the Zoo. Conflict ensues.

Dislikes:

With movies like Shrek and Shrek 2, there was a lot of character development. The humor was sharp, the visuals crisp. Everything that Shrek franchise had going for it at this point was not in Madagascar.

I dislike the animation in most of this movie. It’s not terrible, but mediocre. Perhaps they spent too much money on that all-star voice cast (Stiller, Rock, Smith, Schwimmer), which is a common flaw with animated films.  Too much focus on who and not enough on what.

The humor in Shrek definitely had its low points, but it also found ways to be clever and unique.  Meanwhile, the humor in Madagascar is completely low brow. (Imagine a two-hour long fart joke.)

There definitely a touch of xenophobia in this film. Where the “American” animals wind up in the wilderness of Madagascar and the locals are kooky weirdos with goofy accents. Suggesting that one group (the American raised animals) are “right” and the other “wrong”. If you want to call out human rights violations of another country (female mutilation, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, slavery, child prostitution and labor etc), go ahead, but attacking more benign cultural differences feels like a low blow to me.

Portrays carnivores as dumb primitives who are incapable of all of the advanced critical thinking.  A convenient villain but it is very much the easy way out. Give me a villain like Scar over a “faceless” villain. (Granted there is this other factor with Alex the lion, but we’ll get to that.)

So all the animals talk? Or only land animals? Because eating meat means you are a monster, but eating fish is okay and even celebrated.  I know I know it is an animated movie.  (No rules.) Fish is not a vegetable, it is meat.

Likes:

While I may be hard on the film, there are aspects I like.  Marty is going through an existential crisis.  He longs to experience new things, see the real African grasslands. He wonders what all his life had been like and where he could possibly go from here.

While I dislike a lot of the humor, there were a few worthwhile jokes with apt commentary on city life vs rural/jungle life.

The Penguins are the best part of the film. I actually wanted to see more of them (though not too much more).

Everyone in this movie is being selfish. They are not considering how their actions will affect those (their friends/family) around them. Especially Alex and Marty who we are told are really good friends.  It’s only when these friends start to look beyond their desires, do they find out the truth of the matter, and then can begin to resolve the issue. This does happen in the film, but I dislike the pace of how it comes to be.

Alex going savage is a good storyline to deal with. We like to think that going all-natural is always the best path, but any drastic change can have drastic implications that aren’t always considered previously.  Like, Alex is a freaking lion, one who has eaten nothing but meat his whole life. Suddenly, he is a place where that is frowned upon for obvious reasons, and none of his “friends” see the conflict?  Alex could have also invested in some critical thinking and looked for solutions on his own without getting so dramatic.  This whole conflict could have been avoided. I do like that this was brought up because I think many people have to face similar issues.  That we must think things through and understand how they may impact those around us.

Ultimately the movie promotes this idea of being open-minded to new experiences. To adjust to a changing world when needed, and the idea that we must not only focus on our needs but to be good friends. We must look at their needs as well.

Conclusion:

Honestly, this is lazy animation and lazier writing.  Yeah, it will bring in younger audiences and I suppose profit is the name of the game for every franchise and it works for making money. However, it is also stupid, and insulting. Now, there are aspects of the film I can appreciate, but not nearly enough to save it.

The Animated Ladder-

Princess Mononoke (1997) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/animation-international-princess-mononoke-1997/

The Lion King (1994)- https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/07/disney-renaissance-the-lion-king-1994/

Toy Story (1995)- https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/one-ring-to-rule-them-all-i-meanpixar-toy-story-1995/

The Incredibles (2004) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/pixar-works-magic-yet-again-the-incredibles-2004/https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/pixar-works-magic-yet-again-the-incredibles-2004/

The Iron Giant (1999) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/the-forgotten-one-the-iron-giant/

Spirited Away (2001) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/animation-international-a-spirited-away/

Finding Nemo (2003) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/pixar-reigns-supreme-finding-nemo-2003/

Mulan (1998)  https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/disney-renaissance-mulan-1998/

Beauty and the Beast (1991) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/animation-renassisance-beauty-and-the-beast-1991/

The Little Mermaid (1989) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/animation-renaissance-the-little-mermaid-1989/

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/beyond-disney-batman-mask-of-the-phantasm/

Akira (1988) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/05/animation-throwback-akira-1988/

Monsters Inc. (2001) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/pixar-reigns-supreme-monsters-inc-2001/

Aladdin (1992) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/disney-renaissance-aladdin-1992/

Toy Story 2 (1999) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/pixar-rebounds-toy-story-2-1999/

The Brave Little Toaster (1987) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/animation-revival-the-brave-little-toaster-1987/

Shrek (2001) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/dreamworks-genesis-the-road-to-el-dorado-2000/

The Jungle Book (1967) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/the-rewind-the-1960s-disneys-the-jungle-book-1967/

The Secret of NIMH (1982) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/animation-revival-beyond-disney-the-secret-of-nimh/

Prince of Egypt (1998) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/dreamworks-animation-genesis-the-prince-of-egypt-1998/

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/animation-international-my-neighbor-totoro-1988/

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)  https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/animation-international-howls-moving-castle-2004/

Ice Age (2002) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/06/18/blue-sky-emerges-ice-age-2002/

South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (1999) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/beyond-disneysouth-park-bigger-longer-and-uncut-1999/

Castle in the Sky (1986) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/animation-internationalcastle-in-the-sky/

Emperor’s New Groove (2000) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/disney-in-limbo-emperors-new-groove-2000/

Antz (1998) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/dreamworks-animation-genisis-antz-1998/

A Bug’s Life (1998) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/pixars-sophmore-slump-a-bugs-life-1998/

Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/beyond-disney-fern-gully-the-last-rainforest-1992/

Bambi (1942) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/animation-genisis-bambi-1942/

The Land Before Time (1988) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/animation-revival-beyond-disney-the-land-before-time-1988/

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/animation-international-kikis-delivery-service-1989/

101 Dalmatians (1961) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/animationevolution-101-dalmations-1961/

Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/disney-renaisance-hunchback-of-notre-dame-1996/

Pinocchio (1940) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/animation-genesis-pinocchio/

Tarzan (1999) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/the-grand-finale-of-the-disney-renaissance-tarzan/

The Road to El Dorado (2000) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/dreamworks-genesis-the-road-to-el-dorado-2000/

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/animation-international-1984-nausicaa-of-the-valley-of-the-wind/

An American Tail (1986) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/animation-revival-beyond-disney-an-american-tail-1986/

The Last Unicorn (1982) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/animation-revival-beyond-disney-the-last-unicorn/

Hercules (1997) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/07/disney-renaissance-hercules-1997/

Chicken Run (2000) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/dreamworks-genesis-chicken-run-2000/

Cats Don’t Dance (1997) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/beyond-disney-cats-dont-dance-1997/

Pocahontas (1995) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/05/disney-renaissance-pocahantos/

Robin Hood (1973) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/animation-desolation-robin-hood-1973/

A Goofy Movie (1995) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/the-disney-renaissance-a-goofy-movie-1995/

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs/

Cinderella (1950)- https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/cinderella-1950/

Madagascar (2005)

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2000)- https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/disney-in-limbo-atlantis-the-lost-empire-2000/https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/04/disney-in-limbo-atlantis-the-lost-empire-2000/

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Titan A. E. (2000) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/swan-song-for-don-bluth-titan-a-e/

Rescuers Down Under (1990)- No link.

Lady and the Tramp (1955) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/animation-evolution-lady-and-the-tramp-1955/

Shark Tale (2004)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

Brother Bear (2003)

Hoodwinked (2005)

Anastasia (1997) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/the-return-of-don-bluth-anastasia-1997/

Treasure Island (2002 ) No Link

Sword in the Stone (1963) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/rewind-1960s-sword-in-the-stone-1963/

Fox and the Hound (1981) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/animation-desolation/

The Black Cauldron (1985) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/animation-desolation-the-black-cauldron-1985/

Alice in Wonderland (1951) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/classic-review-alice-in-wonderland-1951/

The Great Mouse Detective (1986) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/animation-desolation-the-great-mouse-detective/

The Rescuers (1977) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/animation-desolation-the-rescuers/

The Polar Express (2004)

The Sleeping Beauty (1959)-https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/animation-evolution-sleeping-beauty-1959/

Dumbo (1941)- https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/animation-genesis-dumbo-1941/

The Aristocats (1970)-https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/animation-desolation-the-aristocats/

Peter Pan (1953)-https://andrewthewordpress.com/2017/12/29/animation-evolution-peter-pan-1953/

The Swan Princess (1994) https://andrewthemovieguy714.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/beyond-disney-swan-princess-1994/

Home on the Range (2004)

 

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