Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Director(s): David Soren
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith
Genre: Family and Kids
Run Time: 22 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Common Sense Says: Love is in the air in this silly but cute Valentine's story.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Madly Madagascar is a short Valentine's Day special that takes place while the gang is still in Africa. Considering the holiday, love is in the air and there are several allusions to attraction and romance, like when Marty and the other zebras spot a beautiful female okapi. These seasonal offerings are another way to involve young audiences in popular franchises with lots of merchandise, but this special does have a short and sweet message about loving your friends.
- What do you think the message of the movie is regarding Valentine's Day? In the end, what do the friends decide is the best way to celebrate the holiday?
- Could you tell that the voice of King Julien was not Sacha Baron Cohen? Did it make a difference?
- Taking into consideration what Alex says about Valentine's Day cards, which family and friends do you really want to give Valentine's Day cards to this year? How can you let those people know how special they are?
What's the story?
Set somewhere in between the action of Madagascar 2 and Madagascar 3, Madly Madagascar chronicles how Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), and the gang spend their first Valentine's Day in Africa. As Alex explains the joys of the holiday to his friends, King Julien (Danny Jacobs filling in for Sacha Baron Cohen) receives an unexpected but auspicious plunk on the head -- a bottle of perfume that fell from a cargo plane flying overhead. Julien believes this is a sign from the gods that he is the King of Love and starts selling the "love potion" to the eager animals. When Marty meets a beautiful okapi (Taraji P. Henson), he begs the penguins to make him another batch of the "love potion," which leads to him inadvertently attracting a huge herd of females.
Is it any good?
As Valentine's Day specials go, this is just the right mix of silly and sweet. One of the cutest subplots is Melman secretly planning to make his first Valentine's Day with girlfriend Gloria special (at one point he enlists a group of monkeys to practice Van Morrison's classic "Gloria" until they get agitated), whereas she thinks he's ignoring her. Then there's Marty, who turns into a zebra lothario after spraying himself with the perfume. The elephant makes a questionable tattoo decision, while the pretty okapi plays him "Freebird" on the harp. With most of the stars on board to voice their characters, it's hard to go wrong, but the brevity of the special will leave some young fans feeling particularly unloved. At least the writers filled each of the 22 minutes with enough sight gags and jokes to keep kids and parents entertained and in the mood to say "I love you" to the people they heart most, not just those attracted to them because of something as superficial as Love Potion No. 9.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Younger kids might take away messages like you shouldn't need a "potion" to find love, and that Valentine's Day can be about the love of good friends. Alex the Lion puts it best when he says it's not how many Valentine's Day cards you receive that counts, but that you're loved.
Educational Value: This is a feature for seasonal, Valentine's Day-themed entertainment, not for educational purposes.
Role Models: Alex is trying to get everyone excited about Valentine's Day, while Melman is trying to show Gloria how much she means to him. In the end, the friendship between the central four characters is what matters.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: The penguins and the resort manager end up in a car chase that ends in an explosion. King Julien's final "love potion" explodes and burns off most of his fur, leaving him looking naked.
Sexy stuff: Lots of love connections in the movie: Skipper and his girlfriend Hula Girl briefly break up, but have a big reunion kiss (as fireworks appear in the background). Melman attempts to show Gloria how much she means to him with a grand Valentine's Day gesture. Marty woos a beautiful new okapi but ends up attracting the entire female population of the reserve.
Language: Insults like "pretty boy," "you reek," "stink," "freak," "you're making me sick," and "you sick, sick giraffe."
Consumerism: This is part of the Madagascar film franchise that includes plenty of merchandise and marketing materials.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue