Despite its mixed critical reception, it was a success at the box office.
A sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, was released on November 7, 2008. The third film, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was released on June 8 2012. A fourth film, titled Madagascar 4 is set to be released on May 18, 2018.
Alex the lion, Marty the starry-eyed zebra, Melman the hypochondriac giraffe and Gloria the “hip” hippo all have a pampered life at the Central Park Zoo, New York City. Here they show off to the crowds and generally enjoy themselves. But Marty who is celebrating his tenth birthday, longs to see the rest of the world, and dreams of life in the wild. When he learns that the zoo’s penguins are planning to escape, he decides to follow suit and return by morning. He has a vague notion that the wild can be found in Connecticut as Gloria told him that there were some wide open spaces resembling the wild. So one night he sneaks out of the zoo, and sets off on foot for Grand Central Terminal where he hopes to take the Metro-North Railroad to Connecticut.
When the others find him gone, they head for Grand Central Station via the Subway to try to get him back. Arriving at Grand Central, they scare away most of the passengers (except for one determined old lady who assaults Alex by bashing his head and his groin with her handbag), and catch Marty. Then they manage to wreck the information desk before being shot with tranquilizer darts, along with the penguins, Mason and Phil (two chimpanzees who also escaped). Anti-zoo campaigners use the incident as evidence that animals should not be locked up. Because of this, all the animals soon find themselves in wooden crates aboard a cargo ship to Kenya.
The penguins succeed in taking over the ship and changing its course, following their initial plan of making their way to Antarctica. During the penguins’ takeover, the crates containing Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria fall overboard and they become separated on the ocean. Alex is soon washed ashore on a tropical beach. All night he is alone, but in the morning, finds Melman stuck in his crate. Gloria and Marty soon wash ashore on the same beach. At first Melman assumes they are in San Diego, California, and Alex is upset that he will be outshone by Shamu. But when they discover a large tribe of lemurs led by King Julien XIII (voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen), they realize they are not in the United States anymore. They are actually in the wild, on the island of Madagascar.
Alex blames Marty for the group’s situation and divides the island between them. Forcing Gloria and Melman to help him build a Statue of Liberty lookalike. His plan is to ignite the beacon, therefore making it easy for the boat (which Alex believes is coming to rescue them), to see where they are. However Melman accidentally sets the whole statue on fire and destroys it (in a Planet of the Apes parody). Gloria and Melman then decide to join Marty (who is living comfortably on his side of the island), and Alex soon realizes that he has been unfair to his friend. Deciding to join the others, and begin life on Madagascar.
Meanwhile the penguins have arrived on the snowbound, windswept Antarctica. After surveying it for a few moments, they decide that it is not as interesting as they thought it would be when Private yells, “Well, this sucks.”
Julien hopes that the lemurs’ new friends, whom he calls the “New York Giants”, will scare away the foosa, enemies of the lemurs who prey on them. Despite the protests of his advisor Maurice (who thinks that Alex as a carnivore, might be dangerous), Julien convinces the lemurs to welcome Marty and the others to their own little corner of paradise.
Unfortunately Alex, who has only ever eaten pre-cut steaks until now, is beginning to regain his natural predatory instincts. After losing control and attacking Marty, he is considered too dangerous to be a friend to his zoomates or to any of the lemurs. Julien admits that Maurice has some sense in fearing Alex, and banishes the lion to the side of the island dominated by the foosa, just before everyone ends up running for their lives. Alex comes to his senses for a time after a knock on the head by a coconut thrown by Maurice, and makes the decision to leave his friends behind rather than do something he’d later regret. Marty, now completely aware of the predatory nature of life in the wild, is devastated at the realization of what is happening to him.
The penguins, leaving Antarctica behind, soon arrive at Madagascar with the ship. Realizing this may be a way back into New York, Marty goes to find Alex (against Gloria’s advice). He ends up deep in foosa territory where he unsuccessfully tries to get Alex to come with him. The foosa eventually attack and soon he, Melman, Gloria and the penguins (who showed up to save the three) end up fighting for their lives. Hopelessly outnumbered by the hungry creatures, Alex appears. At first he seems to have completely returned to his hunting instincts and claims Marty as his own prey. But this turns out to be a ruse: Alex has managed to overcome his predatory instincts. Using the foosa’s natural fear of him, Alex drives the predators away from lemur territory forever.
At A Girly Ending, Following a celebratory feast, at which Alex’s hunger is finally sated by the discovery that he likes sushi even better than steak, the friends return to the ship. The penguins, who stayed behind, decide not to tell them that the ship is out of fuel.
- Ben Stiller as Alex
- Chris Rock as Marty
- David Schwimmer as Melman
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria
- Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien
- Andy Richter as Mort
- Tom McGrath as Skipper
- Chris Miller as Kowalski
- Jeffrey Katzenberg as Rico
- Christopher Knights as Private
- Conrad Vernon as Mason (Phil is unvoiced)
- Fred Tatasciore and Tom McGrath as the Fossa
- Elisa Gabrielli as Nana
- Bob Saget as zoo animal (animal unclear)
- David Cowgill as Police Horse
- Stephen Apostolina as Police Officer
- In Flushed Away, an Alex the Lion toy is seen in the background of the kid’s room.
- The Candy Man is a song from the film Williy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
- The famous Wilhelm Scream was heard when the people in the subway are panicking while the zoo animals are escaping.
- The penguins were originally going to be a barbershop quartet, but were changed over to military commandos.
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.
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 DreamWorks animated feature behind Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek, and Kung Fu Panda.
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