• Review Date: November 20, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 80 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Cute story has some crude humor and innuendo.
  • Review Date: November 20, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 80 minutes





What parents need to know

Educational value

Intended for entertainment, not education, but kids might pick up a bit about what kinds of animals live in Madagascar.

Positive messages

Overall the movie is about friendship and overcoming individual desires for the greater good. It's all very lighthearted, so the messages aren't going to make a huge impact here. Some conflicts and selfishness.

Positive role models

The main characters are generally positive with exaggerated personalities for comic effect. Some of the humor relies of stereotypes -- a whiny hypochondriac, the fey king -- and soem characters are particularly sneaky and mischevious.

Violence & scariness

Fossas attack lemurs; lion attacks his friends, no explicit violence, but some startling imagery.

Sexy stuff

Brief shot of girl hippo pretending to wear "pasties."


Words are suggested ("dam" used with "Hoover," "shh" leading to "sugar," etc.). Plus "sucks" and "shut up."


The movie has become a major franchise with plent of merchandise available for sale.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lion shot with tranquilizers hallucinates.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's some crude humor and sexual innuendo that will probably go over the youngest kids' head. The animals confront assorted dangerous situations, including an encounter with police, containment in crates (dark, closed spaces), a stormy sea and shipwreck, and, most alarmingly, a startling personality change in Alex, the lion, when he wants to eat his friends. There's a shooting with tranquilizer darts in which a character hallucinates to the tune of Sammy Davis Jr.'s song "Candyman" (younger viewers won't know this is about drugs, but the allusion is there). Gloria the hippo briefly appears with seaweed on her body, simulating "pasties" on breasts and crotch area. The lemurs are hunted by scary hyena-like creatures. A secondary plot has a crew of penguins acting like spies, which has them tunneling out of the zoo, knocking out a ship's captain, and stealing an ocean liner.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In MADAGASCAR, unhappy Central Park Zoo zebra Marty (voiced by Chris Rock) yearns for open spaces and herds of other zebras, but his zoo friends -- Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) -- are content. Alex is especially reluctant to leave, because he's pampered like a celebrity. Still, when Marty makes a break one night, they all follow to rescue him and end up getting caught by human authorities, who decide to ship the animals off. But the ship sinks, and the animals wash up on Madagascar, where the two central communities are the lemurs and the lemur-eating fossas. A crisis emerges when Alex gets hungry and begins to hallucinate that his friends are juicy steaks on legs, just before he roars and attacks them. When he realizes what he's doing, he's mortified, but his instincts are hard to repress. Eventually, the friends find a solution. They feed Alex sushi, leave the island \"paradise,\" and resolve to return to some form of captivity.

Is it any good?


Madagascar is a cute idea about a journey that doesn't have a particularly compelling place to go -- but it's still fun. The subplot involving a group of almost maniacal penguins is particularly entertaining. The voice actors are fine overall, though as Melman the giraffe, Schwimmer basically plays his Friends character, Ross, as a cartoon. In the future, he might want to stretch out a bit further.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's portrayals of friendships and how friends can deal with their companions' different personalities. Did you relate to any of the friendships portrayed here?

  • Families can also discuss the film's use of cliches and stereotypes as jokes (the "island" music that characterizes the lemur community, the whiny hypochondriac, the fey lemur king). Why do movies use so many stereotypes? At what point do stereotypes do harm?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 27, 2005
DVD release date:November 15, 2005
Cast:Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directors:Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Wild animals
Run time:80 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild language, crude humor and some thematic elements

This review of Madagascar was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written byLordoftheRings1997 July 26, 2013

One of the WORST and most crude "kids" movies I have ever seen.

This movie is NOT a good movie! Lots of crude humor (potty humor, as my mom calls it). And the language has much to be improved. and at one point, one of the characters exclaims: Sugar honey iced tea... look at the first letter of each word put together... yeah, disgusting for a "family friendly" film. DO NOT let your young children see this. This isn't even appropriate for kids!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 1 and 3 year old Written byJennrleigh October 5, 2009

Ok for kids older than 5 or 6

I think it's a cute movie, but I'm bummed about the language. We're pretty strict about not using "stupid" "crap" "shut up" "hell" or name calling like "jerk" or idiot" and unfortunately, these are often referred to as "mild" insults which is OK for older kids (at least Kindergarten or 1st grade) but completely inappropriate for kids under 4 in my opinion. I don't think this language ever adds anything to the film, so why bother putting it in? I was really disappointed about the scene with "sugar, honey, ice tea"- although many little ones will miss it altogether, why bother putting it in- it doesn't add anything but shock value for the parents :(
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old June 8, 2013

Watch out for language!!!!!!

You have to watch out for language. One character says "sugar iced tea", which is kid language for sh*t (as explain to me by a friend). The penguins say "Hoover dam" as an exclamation, which pretty much means dam*it. Mild things like "sucks" and "shut up" are also used.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass