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Madagascar is a 2005 computer-animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation, and released in movie theaters on May 27, 2005. The film tells the story of four Central Park Zoomarker animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity and are unexpectedly shipped back to Africa, getting shipwrecked on the island of Madagascarmarker. The voices of Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, and David Schwimmer are featured. Other voices include Andy Richter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Cedric the Entertainer. Madagascar was released on DVD on November 15, 2005, along with the short film, The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper. A Blu-ray Disc version was released on September 23, 2008. A sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, was released on November 7, 2008. The third film in the series is planned for summer 2012.


At the Central Park Zoomarker, Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) is celebrating his tenth birthday, but longs to see the rest of the world from outside his pampered life at the zoo. Believing that he can find wide-open spaces to run in Connecticutmarker, he gets some tips from the zoo's penguins who are similarly trying to escape the zoo. Marty's friends, Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), realize Marty's folly and try to follow him. The four, along with the penguins (consisting of Skipper (McGrath), Rico (John DiMaggio), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Private (Christopher Knights) and two monkeys, Mason (Conrad Vernon) and Phil, eventually find themselves at Grand Central Stationmarker, but are quickly sedated by tranquilizer darts when Alex's attempt to communicate is mistaken for aggression. The zoo, under protest of animal-rights activists, are forced to ship the animals by sea to Kenyamarker. During their travels, the penguins manage to escape and take over the ship, intent on taking it to Antarcticamarker. Their antics on the bridge cause the crates containing Marty, Alex, Gloria, and Melman to fall off the boat and wash ashore on Madagascarmarker.

The animals are soon able to regroup, initially believing themselves to be in San Diegomarker, Californiamarker. Upon exploring, however, they come across a pack of lemurs led by King Julien XIII (Sacha Baron Cohen), and quickly learn of their location. Alex blames Marty for their predicament and attempts to signal for help to get back to civilization, while Marty finds the wild to be exactly what he was looking for, with Gloria and Melman soon joining him in enjoying the island. Alex eventually comes around, though his hunting instincts begin to return due to hunger for meat and after being away from the pampered zoo life for so long. The group is accepted by the lemurs, though King Julien's adviser, Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), cautions them about Alex being a predator. King Julien ignores Maurice's concerns and persuades the group to help the lemurs fend off the fossa who hunt the lemurs as prey. When Alex begins to turn on his friends and the lemurs, unable to overcome his instincts and hunger, King Julien bans him to the far side of the island with the fossa. Marty begins to regret seeing what Alex has turned into.

The penguins, having been to Antarctica and finding it not to their liking, land the boat on Madagascar. Seeing this as a chance to return Alex to New York, Marty, with Gloria and Melman, goes to find Alex but become trapped by the fossa. Alex suddenly appears and approaches Marty as if he were prey, but then turns on the fossa to scare them away from the lemur territory forever, showing Marty he has overcome his predatory nature. The penguins help Alex satisfy his meat craving through sushi instead of steak. As lemurs throw a bon voyage celebration for the foursome, the penguins decide not to break the news that the ship has run out of fuel and that they are still stuck on the island, setting the stage for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.



Alex the Lion is the most popular animal at the Central Park Zoo. Nicknamed The King of New York, he is very happy with life in the zoo. When the characters first arrive in Madagascar, he is the loudest proponent of trying to return to the zoo. He is extremely fond of eating steaks but has no idea that they come from animals until he goes into withdrawal after 2 days of not eating after reaching Madagascar.

Marty the Zebra is the instigator behind escaping from the zoo. He constantly dreams about the wild (which he - due Melman's misinformation - interprets as Connecticutmarker) and wonders what life would be like beyond the zoo. One night, following the successful escape of the penguins, he leaves the zoo too, causing his friends to attempt a rescue at Grand Central Stationmarker. After they are recaptured from the train station, animal rights activists hold a rally, leading the zoo to have them and the rest of the animals shipped to a wildlife preserve in Kenyamarker. However, the penguins hijack the ship and accidentally cause the crates containing Marty and his friends to fall off. The crates float on the ocean until they reach Madagascar.

Melman the Giraffe is a hypochondriac who was transferred to the Central Park Zoo as a young adult. Because of his previous stay in the Bronx Zoomarker, Melman believes that he's a real worldly guy, the most experienced in his circle of friends. He's also on a lot of medication and has lots of experience in MRI machines.

Gloria the Hippo serves as the mediator and the nurturer of thegroup who takes care of the others and tends to take charge when needed and loves to eat and live the good life.

The Penguins, a group of four consisting of Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, and Private, spend their days planning an escape that will take them back to Antarcticamarker. When the penguins do make it to Antarctica, they are surprised to see a cold, barren land that they do not like and so, decide to take the ship to what they consider "paradise": Florida. However, having run out of fuel, they beach the ship in Madagascar. Skipper is the leader of the group. Kowalski, the smartest and tallest of the penguins, thinks of plans and takes notes for Skipper. Private is distinguishable by his googly eyes and soft English accent; he is the youngest of the group. Rico is good with knives, has a fondness for explosives, and is the only one of the four seen swimming. He also regurgitates useful objects (a variation of the "magic satchel") such as a piece of wire for picking locks with. Alex describes the penguins as psychotic (while they say the same of him). Skipper calls Marty their "monochromatic friend", amusing since both kinds of animals are "black and white".

King Julien XIII the Ring-tailed Lemur is the self-proclaimed King of the Madagascar lemurs. Julien speaks with an Indian accent and loves to sing, dance, and be the center of attention. Julien is annoyed by the lemur Mort and even suggests feeding him to Alex in order to help him get over his addiction to steak. He wears a crown made out of leaves, and later a larger one that features a gecko. The other lemurs hang on his every word. He is slightly deranged and overly impressed by his modest intellect. Julien is also very weird and dramatic. He contrives a plan to use Alex to protect the lemurs from their natural enemies, the fossa, as long as Alex doesn't overshadow his own glory. Also, according to the song "I Like to Move It" King Julien XIII is about 68 years old. According to a May 26, 2005 interview with Director Tom McGrath in the Seattle Post Intelligencer [675080], "We had this two-line character, Julian [sic], and we got a tape of the show 'Ali G' with Sacha Baron Cohen. He came in and he invented this Indian accent. We gave him a couple of lines and he turned them into eight minutes of dialogue. We were just in tears on the floor and thought, 'This guy has to be the king.' So that was just a two-line part that he invented and it turned into that role."

Maurice the Aye-aye is Julien's assistant and second in command of the lemurs. He is in charge of announcing Julien to his court, though he finds this task tedious. He is generally less impressed by Julien than the other lemurs. Maurice shows the most intelligence in Julien's court, and is the only one to recognize Alex as a potentially greater threat than the fossa.

Mort is a Mouse lemur that most animals find adorable, but King Julien is highly annoyed by him, eventually shouting "Oh, shut up, you're so annoying!" in response to his inane chatter. Mort responds to this by giggling and looking flattered. In the commentary for the film, the director mentioned that Mort was actually 35.

The Fossa are predators native to Madagascar, who resemble hyenas or half-cat half-dog creatures. Known as the top predators in the island of Madagascar, the fossa are the villains of the movie, constantly trying to kill and eat the lemurs. According to Julien, "they're always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off". They are cowards, however, and always flee when confronted by a bigger predator, such as Alex. They also use foreign objects such as salt and pepper shakers.

Despite appearances, the pronunciation in the film ("foo-sah") is accurate, however the spelling (Foosa or Fousa) is not, as shown in one of the signs on the island.

Mason and Phil are the sophisticated chimpanzees at the Central Park Zoo, preferring to "read" the newspaper and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning; for them, freedom means attending a Tom Wolfe lecture to "fling poo at him." Mason speaks with a RP accent and plans the daily affairs for Phil and himself, but is unable to read. He is named for James Mason, whose voice inspired the character's portrayal. Phil doesn't speak, making him initially seem less intelligent and more primitive than his comrade, but can read English and "speaks" American Sign Language which instills the idea that Phil is perhaps the more cerebral of the two. Both escape from the zoo in the beginning of the movie after Alex, Gloria, and Melman leave for Grand Central Station; they are later caught at Grand Central trying to rob a teller. They are also sent to the wildlife reserve along with the main characters. Unlike the main characters, they don't wash up on the shores of Madagascar, however they do appear in the background of the final scene in their crate on the ship. In their first scene in the movie, they raid a wastebasket for leftover coffee, a bagel, and a newspaper. Their crate on the ship is full of aluminum cans (in the DVD, it is indicated that they contain root beer, not beer, likely implemented in order to make the film more family-friendly). According to a May 26, 2005 interview with Director Tom McGrath in the Seattle Post Intelligencer [675081], the chimp's "first scene was just deciphering the code on the shipping label. We got this girl who knew American Sign Language. We wanted (the gestures) to be really frenetic so she signed out, 'Tell the tiny pea-brained birds that the sign reads: Ship to ...' and it gave us enough hand gestures. Then we went back to 'I see that Tom Wolfe is speaking at Lincoln Center,' and she gestured, 'Can we throw our poo at his stupid white suit?'"

Animals featured


Critical reception

The film gained mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 55% approval rating based on 178 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes' "Cream of the Crop", 37% of critics gave positive reviews based on 35 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has 57% approval rating based on 36 reviews falling under the "Mixed or Average" category.

Box office

Despite the mixed response from critics, the film was a commercial success The film grossed $47,224,594 with $11,431 average from 4,131 theaters making it #1. In the United States, the film gained $193,595,521 domestically and a foreign gross of $339,085,150 adding to a worldwide gross of $532,680,671. As of 2008, the film is the fifth highest-grossing DreamWorksmarker animated feature behind Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda.


The film has currently won three awards and several nominations.

Year Award Subject Result
2006 Annie Award Best Animation Nominated
2006 Annie Award Matt Baer, Animated Effects Nominated
2006 Annie Award Rick Glumac, Animated Effects Nominated
2006 Annie Award Martin Usiak, Animated Effects Nominated
2006 Annie Award Craig Kellman, Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
2006 Annie Award Hans Zimmer, Music in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
2006 Annie Award Yoriko Ito, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
2006 Annie Award Tom McGrath, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
2006 Annie Award Catherine Yuh Rader, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Nominated
In addition, at the 2006 Kids' Choice Awards, it won the Blimp Award for Favorite Animated Movie, a new category formed that year.

Sequels and Spinoffs

A sequel titled Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was released on November 7, 2008, and picked up right where the first one left off, with the same voice cast. A second sequel, Madagascar 3, is set for release in 2012. A short film called The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper was released with the Madagascar DVD, and was theatrically released with Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in the United Statesmarker. A 2009 spinoff series, The Penguins of Madagascar, premiered in March 2009 on Nickelodeon. It is the first Nicktoon to be produced by both Nickelodeon and DreamWorks.

Merry Madagascar, a holiday special featuring characters from the film series, will appear in November 2009 on NBC.

Similarities to The Wild

Disney's animated feature film The Wild has been criticized as being too close of a plot line to Madagascar. Both films feature zoo animals from the Central Park Zoo in New York City going out into the wild for the first time. While there are differences, the casual observer can clearly spot the similarities.



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