|A Parental Review of "Madagascar" for Concerned Parents:|
Madagascar had such high potential, but as is sadly so often the case, that potential is undermined by the use of potty humor and crudity.
The story opens with four animal friends in a zoo – a zebra, a lion, a hippopotamus, and a giraffe.
The premise is that Marty, the zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) wants to go to the ‘wild’. It’s his birthday, and he’s feeling old and like life is passing him by. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) is his best friend. When Marty actually breaks out of the zoo, the other three go to find him.
The potty humor starts early, with Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer) giving Marty a birthday present of a thermometer. As Marty thanks him and puts it in his mouth, Melman tells him “You’re welcome, it was my first rectal thermometer.” Marty then spits it out, and yells “Mother-” (the “f*cker” is implied, but at least is not said).
There were many, many parts of the movie like that – here is a sampling:
Two monkeys talking about going to see Tom Wolfe speaking at Lincoln Center: “Well of course we are going to throw poo on him.”
Melman the giraffe uses a public restroom and comes back and says “Look! Free mints” (displaying a toilet deoderizer cake on his tongue).
Marty the zebra walks up to a mounted police officer and asks the horse for directions. Meanwhile, the policeman gets on the radio with dispatch and says “There is a zebra right in front of me – can I shoot it?”
The lion, hippo and giraffe find Marty the zebra at Grand Central Station. All the humans run screaming from the animals, except one old lady, who goes up to Alex the lion and proceeds to beat the stuffing out of him with her purse. The very next scene is of the 4 animal friends surrounded by a SWAT team, and about a hundred automatic weapons pointing at them.
Then the old lady comes back, and kicks Alex right in between the legs.
This is when one of the officers shoots Alex (it turns out to be a tranquilizer, which sends Alex on a psychedelic trip).
When Alex awakes, the very act of his moving causes a volley of dozens of tranquilizer darts to be shot at him (although only one hits him, in the paw, sending him on another 60’s-style trip).
The animals are all crated and put on a ship for somewhere. They end up falling off the ship, and marooned on an island.
When the animals find themselvs in the wild, and have to approach a group of lemurs, the hippo says “Let’s smile and look friendly.” She notes that the giraffe is doing a good job of smiling, and he says “I’m not smiling, it’s gas.”
In the next scene a friendly spider is on Alex’s back and because Alex is afraid of spiders, the hippo tries to pulverize a spider with a stick.
When they first meet the lemurs, the lemur king, who is insane, says “They are aliens, they are going to try to kill us,” but fortunately he has devised “a cunning test to see whether they are savage killers” – his test is to punt an adorable little baby lemur out into the open in front of the four animals – the baby is very scared and starts crying.
When the animals don’t eat the baby, the lemur king accuses them of being “Just a bunch of pansies,” and uses the term ‘pansies’ several more times.
He then slaps his assistant for saying something derogatory about the four animals, exclaiming “don’t you see you’ve insulted the freaks?”
When the four stranded animals from the zoo ask “Don’t you have any people here?” the lemur king responds “We have people of course, they are up there…” (pointing to skeleton hanging from a tree).
“Don’t you have any live people?” queries Alex?
“No, only dead ones,” the lemur king responds.
When the animals realize that they are actually in the wild, one of them asks “The wild..like..the live in a mud hut and wipe yourself with a leaf wild?” To which one of the lemur responds “Who wipes?”
In the meantime, the ship off which the animals fell is hijacked by commando penguins, who tie up and slap the human captain.
Back on the island, the giraffe has dug himself a grave, and is sitting in it, because he is sure he is about to die.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Here, however, is a sampling of some of the other terms and words that the animals say:
pain in the behind
And many instances of “kill” “be killed” and “killer”.
There is also one scene where the animals – who are desperate to get back to the zoo – finally start making peace with being in the wild. They are one with nature. They feel great, the music is upbeat, the zebra is bopping along in the jungle and finds an adorable little baby duckling. He very gently and sweetly picks the duckling up and brings it to the water, and places it at the water’s edge, where it makes cute little duckling noises and swims out along the water..and..a giant killer whale jumps up out of the water and eats it.
Eventually the boat actually comes back to the island. It’s the penguins, who, when asked “Where are the people?” (from the boat), respond “We killed them and ate their livers – just kidding.”
But in the end, it’s a big happy ending with the four animal friends back on the boat, waving goodbye to everybody from the deck, ready to sail back to civilization, so relieved to be going… and then the audience sees the penguins still on the island, waving goodbye to the lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo, and you are so happy that the four friends will finally make it home – and one penguin turns to another and asks “Don’t you think we should tell them that the boat is out of gas?”
“Nope,” comes the response, “just smile and wave.”
In short, this movie was a complete disappointment, and I wish that our 9 year old had never been exposed to it.
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