The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Saturday, April 22, 2006


I watched this the night after watching Chicken Little and what a difference a day makes! Madagascar had me from about the second shot of the movie in the pre-titles sequence. A dream sequence includes a large ensemble of penguin chorines who hit a beautiful harmony crescendo while flying gracefully off-screen in a Busby Berkeley formation.

The script for Madagascar is very witty, with many of the same film and pop culture references I derided in Chicken Little - except this time they somehow work. There are still stupid fart-noise jokes to delight the kids, but overall I think the movie does a much better job at entertaining both children and adults.

The look of the film is deliberately "cartoony", with the main characters and location settings opting for a make-believe look instead of realism. The lion's paws are big flat foam-looking things. Most of the animals walk on their hind legs.

There is a central story of friendship and togetherness that is pitched right for little kids. But there is also a strange dual theme of "be happy where you are" intertwined with "follow your dream, even if it takes you away from your comfort zone." They really do play both sides of the argument and you don't even realize you've had your cake and eaten it until the end of the movie.

I thought the main character quartet was a little boring. But the supporting "cast" more than makes up for it. There are two urbane chimps, a crazy-happy lemur king, a tiny baby lemur who oozes cartoon cute with eyes that take up 80% of his face, and most importantly... a team of four penguins performing "The Great Escape." They steal every scene they are in.

Most of the music is known pop culture oldies, but there is a big electro-dance original that will get your blood flowing and have you humming it afterwards. There is also a really nice Hans Zimmer instrumental score that you don't notice until the final credits. It's worth listening to.

There's lots of controversy in the film world about the "coincidental" release of this film near that of Disney's "The Wild", which has almost exactly the same plot. Jeffrey Katzenberger supposedly left Disney for Dreamworks right around the time Disney was looking at starting up "The Wild" as a project. I thought it was strange that characters in Madagascar repeatedly make pointed comments (and a doormat) referencing "The Wild."

But taking this film on its own, I found it thoroughly entertaining and laugh out loud funny. I'll bet it's one of those movies that plays better on the home screen than in theaters. You don't expect so much for your money, so you can sit back and let it unfold a little more easily.


At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Monica said...

I loved this movie! The penguins definitely stole many scenes but I loved the lemurs, especially the little cute one and King Julien! I see you’re really using your Netflix subscription and loving it. Did you know that Blockbuster offers a similar mail-in service? I work for DISH and they’re offering three months free of this service when you switch to DISH. It’s a pretty good deal; check it out at !


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