Apparently, a 10th birthday is a big thing for a zebra. As Madagascar opens, Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) is celebrating this milestone, complete with presents from his three best friends, a lion named Alex (Ben Stiller), a hippo named Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), and a hypochondriacal giraffe named Melman (David Schwimmer). This special day makes Marty reflect on his cush life in the Central Park Zoo—where he and his friends enjoy a lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous existence in between entertaining the good folks of New York City—and wonder what lies beyond those gates.
This wanderlust is fueled in part by the penguins, who put fanciful ideas in Marty's head about the "wilds of Connecticut" while trying to dig their way there themselves with plastic spoons and Popsicle sticks. When Marty shares his birthday-candle-blowing dream of going wild with his best buds, they don't get it. After a bit of birthday brooding, he decides to trot out the door on his own after lights-out that night and take the subway north toward adventure. When his friends stage an intervention, they all get caught and shipped to Africa. On the way, the penguins stealthily commandeer the ship and set their sights on Antarctica, a sharp change of course that knocks our four crated friends overboard, only to wash ashore in Madagascar.
Up to this point the pace and premise have been pleasing. Marty is relatably wistful as he wonders if there's something more to life. Alex is endearingly brash as the zoo's "mane" attraction. Melman is laughably neurotic as he traipses the mean streets of New York with Kleenex boxes on his feet to protect him from the grime. And Gloria is the lovable fly-girl hip-o who keeps them all in line.
But unfortunately, ...1
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