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Gotta Run Through The Jungle

Madagascar is the latest animated offering from Dreamworks SKG, a story about animals from the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Alex the Lion (the voice of Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hipppo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are best friends. So when Marty freaks out and decides to get the hell out of the zoo, his buddies go after him. When they are captured they are shipped (in large boxes, of course) by boat to an African game preserve. However, a group of militaristic penguins (led by the voice of Andy Richter) hijack the boat and the animals end up on Madagascar, where their skills as animals are tested.

The plot is ridiculous, of course, but unlike many other animated movies, this one is nearly completely boring. Sure, who doesn't like a few Connecticut barbs thrown in here and there? But it's hardly enough to keep the ball rolling. This movie is boring, and let me tell you something else: Stiller sucks as the voice of a lion. How could he be good? That little weasel as the mighty voice of the king of the jungle? Please. That cowardly bastard Bert Lahr is Charlton Heston's full-of-piss-and-vinegar Moses when compared to Stiller.

As far as the animation goes, there's nothing very groundbreaking in here. The background sets are amazing at times, especially when the animals are running around New York City. But the actual main characters themselves are nothing new, and they're nothing to write home about either.

Good parts: Sacha Baron Cohen -- Ali G himself -- is the voice of the brain-scrambled king of the lemurs. His voice just never gets old, especially when he says the word "dead" (think of Borat: "My wife, she is dead."). The militaristic penguins? Also very funny, and their animated motion is actually quite visually pleasing. The monkeys are educated drunkards that want to drink beer and fling poo at Thom Wolfe -- now that's funny. Another positive (and this is a bit cheesy) is the internal struggle that Alex the Lion has in the wild. How can he be a wild animal and not want to eat his friends? After all, they are his prey. And, Alex shoots us Blue Steel a few times, which is sort of funny.

The theater in which I saw this was chock full of kids. Many of these kids were snot-nosed. I'm talking laps up and down the aisle, unfettered crying and shouting. And, oh, how these kids loved the movie. Example: I would laugh about a line like "Who would want to go to Connecticut?" while the majority of the theater laughed about the image of a hippopotamus wearing a shell bikini pretending to be embarrassed. That, my friends, is the audience for which this movie has been made. Luckily for all of you parents, it's only 80-minutes long.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars