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Sat, Sept. 21

'Madagascar' good but falls short of 'Shrek', 'Toy Story', 'Finding Nemo' quality

AP Photo/ DreamWorks  
In this image provided by  DreamWorks, (Left to right) Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) have to stick together when they find themselves washed ashore in a strange land in  ³Madagascar.²

AP Photo/ DreamWorks In this image provided by DreamWorks, (Left to right) Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) have to stick together when they find themselves washed ashore in a strange land in ³Madagascar.²

"Madagascar," DreamWorks' latest animated film, is wildly funny and fairly entertaining as audiences watch a group of animals living in the Central Park Zoo escape to live in the wild.

An area within the zoo is the home of a motley group of animals ­ a paranoid giraffe named Melman (David Schwimmer), an anxious Zebra named Marty (Chris Rock), an attention-loving lion named Alex (Ben Stiller) and a sweet hippo named Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) ­ who are all apparently tame enough to cohabitate.

They are best friends, and on Marty's 10th birthday, he realizes he is getting old and hasn't done what he has wanted to do in his life, including leaving the zoo and experiencing life in the wild. He is especially determined to do so when Melman tells him the wild is in Connecticut, and the penguins are on their way.

When he leaves, the others are forced to follow their friend and try to bring him back to the zoo.

Creators of the film did a good job capturing what would probably be going through the minds of animals living in a zoo if they could think and talk.

They, of course, did this in an amusing way, using the voices of people who are known to be very funny. The voices of the four characters are wonderful, and blend with one another perfectly.

There is just enough humor and wit in the film to make it entertaining not only for children, but for adults as well.

The only slight downfall to the film was the middle of the plot. Things seem to be running smoothly until midway through the film when the animals have escaped the zoo and found their way to an isolated island.

The plot seems to slow down a bit once they land on the tropical island and don't know what to do with themselves other than explore. After a while, however, things pick back up, and it is comical to watch as Alex and Marty are at one another's tails.

Everything is peaceful until the four friends discover a large society of goofball lemurs who are determined to befriend them in an attempt to keep the flesh-eating hyenas away.

This film does a wonderful job at capturing human characteristics in the form of animals, and it is fun to see the surprising turn the movie takes toward the end.

Overall, it is as colorful and creatively mastered as other animated films, such as "Shrek," "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," but it doesn't have near the story line or humor that the others contained.

Those interested in seeing a lighthearted, animated comedy with plenty of laughs and entertaining qualities will not be disappointed, but for those who want to see something with the humor and quality of "Shrek," this film won't cut it.

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