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Madly Madagascar (2013)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/29/2013

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/4/2013

In my review for Dreamworks Spooky Stories, I touched on the tradition of the movie spin-off, which often results in a holiday themed television special. While Halloween and Christmas are often well-represented in this genre, we don't get that many Valentine's Day specials, unless someone named Charlie Brown is starring in the show. However, everyone enjoys a good love story, so one would think that Valentine's would be the perfect target for a movie to expand its franchise. This was obviously the aim of Dreamworks (again), as they bring us Madly Madagascar.

Madly Madagascar takes place before the events of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, as the familiar characters are still stranded in Africa. Everyone is excited, as Valentine's Day is approaching. Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller) was accustomed to getting hundreds of Valentine's cards when he lived in the zoo and he hopes that this tradition will continue. Melman the Giraffe (voiced by David Schwimmer) has a big surprise planned for his girlfriend, Gloria the Hippo (voiced by Jada Pinkett Smith). Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) just hopes that he can stand out from the other zebras. King Julien (voiced by Danny Jacobs) is out for a walk with his faithful assistant, Maurice (voiced by Cedric the Entertainer), when he is hit by a bottle of perfume, called Love Potion #9, which is dropped from a passing plane. He takes the title literally, and begins to sell it to the other animals, in exchange for their loyalty. This creates a frenzy on the plains, as everyone wants to follow those who have used the perfume. Those who haven't attempt to create their own formula.

Madly Madagascar has a strong opening, as we are treated to Alex's flashbacks to his life at the zoo, and a truly funny and bizarre scene in which King Julien debates with himself about what to do with the perfume. However, from there, the show really falls apart. It turns into a series of standard sitcom misunderstandings and shenanigans which show little creativity on the parts of the writers and very few laughs. The only joke in the second half of the show will go over the heads of younger viewers, as it refers to a famous song from the 1970s.

Madly Madagascar fails for two main reasons. First of all, it casts its net too wide. Each of the main characters is given their own story and the 22-minute running time means that things aren't very detailed. There is a sub-plot involving the penguins attempting to rescue a bobble-head doll which is simply bizarre and feels like a distraction (The penguins have proven popular, so it's not surprising that they get their time in the spotlight here.) The second problem is that, too many stories aside, Madly Madagascar doesn't seem to have any real focus or theme. I suppose that there are messages about being oneself (and not relying on things like love potions) and that big presents aren't important (which is easy for Hollywood to say), but these ideas get lost in the crowd and the whole thing feels pointless.

In the past, Dreamworks has done a good job with its spin-off shorts. I'm not a huge fan of the Shrek movies, but I enjoy their holiday specials, as those behind the shows clearly know which characters to put front and center. Following on the heels of the surprisingly good Madagascar 3, Madly Madagascar feels like a pale imitation. All of the familiar characters are here, but they are simply going through the motions and the 22-minutes feels like an eternity.

Madly Madagascar should have simply consisted of King Julien talking to himself on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good -- it's the show's most striking feature -- and the image is never overly dark or bright. The digital transfer doesn't show any issues with the animation and the level of detail is very good. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. While this isn't an overly active or ambitious track, we do get some nice stereo effects (which highlight sounds from off-screen) and surround effects. The subwoofer effects are mild, but do add to certain scenes.

The Madly Madagascar DVD contains two extra features. "First Flight" (8 minutes) is a bonus short concerning a busy man who makes a new friend, which is cute and oddly satisfying. However, most viewers will look at it and say, "Wow, someone wants to be Pixar." "Hammy's Boomerang Adventure" (5 minutes) features characters from Over the Hedge. Does anyone talk about that movie anymore? This is interesting, but as I've never seen the original movie, the lack of character development hurt it for me. But, they somehow got Bruce Willis, Steve Carrell, and Wanda Sykes for this. (The copyright on this is 2006. Has this been released before?)

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.