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Genre: Animation, Adventure
Directed by
Eric Darnell and Tim McGrath
Starring: The voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Andy Richter
Released by: DreamWorks Animation

In Short: Terrific jokes and brilliant animation make Madagascar just what families are looking for in a night out at the movies—fun for everyone of any age.

Rumble in the Jungle
An Adventure with the Animals

In the latest animated feature from DreamWorks ("Shrek," "Shark Tale") four unlikely pals—a lion, a zebra, a hippopotamus, and a giraffe—find their comfy city life at the Central Park Zoo turned upside down when they are shipped off to the wilds of Africa.

On the surface, "Madagascar" looks like a movie for kids. A tale of friendship and adventure, with nice lessons for the tiny tot crowd, like "Shrek" (and especially "Shrek 2,") it is packed with very adult humor. There are jokes that will go right over the heads of the kids in the crowd, but will keep the grown-ups laughing all the way. And it certainly helps that the main voices include comic talents like Ben Stiller and Chris Rock, whose performances as the lion and the zebra, best friends until one realizes that the other is supposed to be dinner, really keep the story rollicking along.

Especially amusing are the movie references and parodies that are peppered throughout the story; once they start, half the fun for adults watching the film is trying to pick up on all of them. The other half is just enjoying the comical situations that the city beasts encounter when they end up back in the wild on the island of "Madagascar," and it's that half that kids find mesmerizing. There was nary a peep nor a squirm out of the youngster-packed audience we were in, high praise indeed from the toughest audience out there.

Marvelously thrilling for both young and old are the film's wonderful visuals, as the animation combines the cartoony feel of old-school, hand-drawn favorites like Looney Tunes or Mickey Mouse with state-of-the-art 3-D computer techniques. It's a winning combo that creates eye-popping effects. That, along with all the funny bits and the film's heartfelt story, makes it seem pretty certain that "Madagascar" is destined to be the kind of hit that give everyone at DreamWorks a very happy night's rest.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

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