Saturday, November 26, 2005

Madagascar Is DVDelightful


Madagascar captured me with a single teaser image: the animated lion bounding up the steps from New York's subway is felled by blows from a little old lady's handbag. Bad dog! she calls him, and bad kitty! (No wonder the trailer was nominated for a Golden Trailer Award.)

But life got in the way of my seeing this movie in the theatrical release. Now that children are grown and gone, there's little to remind me of the delights of a good kid's movie. For one reason or another, I missed this movie entirely.

Then the DVD was released, and I began to see that teaser again. My spouse helped remind me of its pull, chanting Bad kitty! every time it came on the TV. So I got the DVD, and happily relaxed into the warm arms of a really delightful story.

The voice talents of Chris Rock as Marty, a zebra yearning for "the wild," and Ben Stiller as the star of the Central Park Zoo, Alex the lion (bad kitty!), with Jada Pinkett Smith as a mellow hippo named Gloria, and David Schwimmer voicing the hypochondiac giraffe, Melman, give the excellent script an extra dimension. But in the end, it's the script that shines.

Little things, like the bad kitty! line, a quick homage to Fantasia as Gloria dives into her pool at night, and the name of one of the penguins (Kowalski, as in the putative subtitle "Kowalski Gets It" for the long-running TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) pile on, zipping by almost too fast to notice. Alex does Charleton Heston. Marty zones in on a park mural to the tune of "Born Free." The penguins channel Neo, ninjas, and Captain Kirk in their quest to reach Antarctica.

There is no grand theme here, no overwhelming rush of tears or sweet nostalgic awww to reward us for our time. Yet, taken as a whole, the movie is wonderful. It is the sum of these small, sweet, funny, or referential moments that accumulates into 90 minutes of joyful escape.

And seeing it on DVD has several additional benefits. First, you can pause and skip back to review that joke that flew by so fast. Yep, the old lady really did call Alex a bad dog first.

But even better, the DVD comes with a new animated short featuring the penguins back in Central Park Zoo. "The Penguins' Christmas Caper" is delightful in its own right, giving us a new look at the coordinated chaos that is wreaked by this crew of determined birds. (My laugh as they hid in a line of perambulating nuns took me to the floor!)

Give yourself a break from the cares of the world! You can tell yourself you're doing it "for the children"; I don't care. But if you missed this charming movie in the theaters, don't wait until it's chopped into pieces on commercial TV. You'll thank me later.

Please join us at BlogCritics to comment on this review.


Blogger samraat said...

4/03/2010 11:20 PM  

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