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Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Madagascar Movie Poster Image
Cute story has some crude humor and innuendo.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 80 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 91 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 77 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWilliam8 June 24, 2012

Really bad movie for adults disguised as a kids' cartoon

Most of the jokes would only be funny to adults, except they aren't really funny to me or my wife (gay stereotypes, fake drug trips, etc.). Reminded me mo... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThis_is_a_fake_name August 14, 2018

Great family movie

This movie has nothing spectacular about it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of my favorite animated movies. There are a few jokes that may be a little iffy f... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 6, 2018


I think its ok. Not really my taste but fine. I was unfortunately SHOCKED by the fact that one of the animals said Sugar Honey Iced Tea. Sugar Honey Iced Tea is... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals

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