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Article

Madagascar

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Madagascar
Madagascar: © DreamWorks Animation SKG

Madagascar

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG
runtime:
86 minutes
Wide Release Date:
05/27/05
performer:
Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter
director:
Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
author:
Mark Burton, Eric Darnell, Billy Frolick, Tom McGrath
genre:
Animation

We gave it an A-

Just when you thought there might be a lull in the Ben Stiller flick parade, here he comes as a computer-animated lion, Alex, in DreamWorks’ follow-up to Shrek 2 and Shark Tale. He’s pals with Marty (Chris Rock), a zebra whose desire to quit their pampered life in the Central Park Zoo lands the duo — plus a sassy hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and a hypochondriacal giraffe (David Schwimmer) — on a trip back to the wild. The filmmakers worked through some false leads in the voice-casting process (Jason Alexander was an early candidate for the giraffe, while Madonna didn’t materialize as the tough-gal hippo) and had some trouble getting Stiller’s animated alter ego just right. ”Ben’s line readings can sound really angry,” says codirector Eric Darnell (who also codirected Antz). ”But he looks all vulnerable saying them. We had to work carefully with the animators because their instinct was to…make [Alex] look furious.”

A lot of head-scratching also went on about what to do once the animals land on the title island and encounter a pack of nutty local animals. ”Should they have African accents?” says codirector Tom McGrath. ”French-African?” But after Sacha Baron Cohen (better known as Ali G) riffed in a vaguely Indian argot, the issue was settled. ”He’s a great physical performer,” McGrath says. ”And he sings, for a scene with a thousand furry lemurs in a giant jungle-rave party.” Take that, ”Circle of Life.”