| Oooh, it's scary in the real world! Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, and David Schwimmer give voice to the voiceless, and neurotic, zoo escapees in Madagascar.
Dir. Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath; writ. Mark Burton, Billy Frolick; feat. (voices) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cedric the Entertainer (PG)
A quartet of Central Park Zoo animals accustomed to celebrity treatment in captivity are whisked away from their man-made homes and must learn how to survive in the wild in Madagascar.
The story begins with Marty, a curious Zebra (Rock) who wants to see what the world outside the cage has to offer. Unwilling to let him go, his friends Alex (Stiller), a confident lion, Melman (Schwimmer), a hypochondriac giraffe, and Gloria (Smith), a maternal hippopotamus, track down the striped stowaway only to end up on an unwanted detour to the coast of Africa courtesy of animal-rights activists. Following the odd quad on their journey is a group of sly penguins who are determined to dig their way to Antarctica. In Madagascar, the New Yorkers meet a tribe of lemurs who think Alex has arrived to save them from the carnivorous fossas that plague the island.
Relying entirely on slapstick comedy for the kids and played-out film allusions, including Cast Away, Planet of the Apes, and The Silence of the Lambs, for adults, Madagascar offers inconsistent humor and replaces wit with trivial gags.
Plus, it's disturbingly eerie when an animated lion recreates the scene in American Beauty in which a sexually frustrated Kevin Spacey fantasizes about a naked Mena Suvari covered in rose petals.