Madagascar is an American 2005 computer-animated comedy produced by DreamWorks Animation. The movie is about four friends — Alex the Lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) — who live in New York's Central Park Zoo. Since they have lived their whole life in the zoo, they are unaware of what the wilderness is like or the fact that Alex is their natural predator (he believes the natural role of lions is to perform song-and-dance numbers). After they are shipped off to a wildlife reserve for escaping, they become shipwrecked on the coast of Madagascar. There they meet a society of lemurs and Alex's true nature as a carnivore starts to emerge.
There have also been two Christmas Specials: the short film A Christmas Caper (set before the first movie) and the TV special Merry Madagascar (set between the first and second movies). A Valentine's Day TV special, Madly Madagascar, has been released as well, set between the second and third movies. Like with many animation properties, a series of tie-in games exists.
The series is notable for featuring the voices of comedians Chris Rock and Ben Stiller, as well as Friends alumnus David Schwimmer. On March 29, 2009 a Spin-Off called The Penguins of Madagascar premiered on Nickelodeon. It takes place in Central Park Zoo and most notably features the penguins, lemurs, and chimps, and is not canonically related to the films. The main cast do not make appearances in the series though Alex has a cameo in one of the specials as Skipper's spirit guide.
In November 2014, a spin-off film, Penguins of Madagascar, was released. As its name implies, it focuses on the penguins, although it's in canon with the movies instead of the TV series, taking place after the third film. On December 19, 2014 another spin-off series All Hail King Julien premiered on Netflix, this time taking place on Madagascar prior to the events of the first film.
In January 2020, another spin-off Madagascar: A Little Wild was announced, featuring the main quartet as kids residing in their rescue habitat at the Central Park Zoo. It was released on Hulu on September 7, 2020.
Don't give me excuses, give me tropes!:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Plastic spoons. The Penguins are able to use them to tunnel through concrete.
- Actor Allusion:
- In the beginning of the movie, Alex's face while posing for a camera is the Blue Steel, the signature pose of Derek Zoolander.
- His "surprise" face to Marty has been interpreted as a nod to a scene from the same movie when Derek, covered in coal soot, jumps out of a dark corner to scare his father.
- Marty's "black with white stripes or white with black stripes" conflict is an allusion to Chris Rock's own racially-themed comedy.
- Always a Bigger Fish: King Julien's plan was to have Alex be the protector of the lemurs since he scared the fossa off by accident. But, Maurice was the sole dissenter of this plan because he recognized Alex as a carnivore and knew that it was only a matter of time before he goes savage and tries to hunt one of their own.
- An Aesop: There's no place like home.
- Animal Talk: Played straight for the most part, but land animals apparently can't hear what dolphins are saying.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- There's Alex's rant at Marty after the latter gets them stranded on the island:" I'm gonna kill you, Marty! I'm gonna strangle you, then bury you, then dig you up and clone you and kill all your clones! And then, I'm never talking to you again!"
- Inverted when King Julien is explained who the fossa are to the quadrio:"They are always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off."
- There's Alex's rant at Marty after the latter gets them stranded on the island:
- Asian Cleaver Fever: When Alex gets hungry, Rico the penguin prepares him a plate of sushi by putting on a headband, taking a knife in each flipper, slashing at the fish (which remains whole), tossing it up into the air, and having it land as perfect pieces of sushi, rice and all.
- Ass Kicks You: During the final battle with the predatory fossa, Gloria the hippo literally butt-stomps some of them into the ground.
- Bamboo Technology: Marty manages to use bamboo, vines and leaves to build a small house with plumbing.
- Big Damn Reunion: Parodied. After being washed ashore, Alex and Marty are happily running towards each other in slow motion and to swelling music... until Alex's face turns menacing and Marty realizes he better U-turn and leg it.Marty: Oh Sugar Honey Ice Tea!
- Black Comedy: In the first film, Marty, Melman, and Gloria try to save a duckling after witnessing a mouse get attacked by a snake and carried off by a hawk. When they take the duckling to a nearby lake, a crocodile swoops up and swallows him whole.
- Blatant Lies: When Alex's hunger starts to become uncontrollable and Meat-O-Vision kicks in, Marty tells Alex that Alex is biting his butt. Alex denies it even with Marty's butt still in his mouth.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Alex's threat to kill Marty, clone him and then kill his clones.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- In one of the first scenes, were shown the Zoosters daily lives. Photos are seen of Alex posing, Marty running, Gloria swimming, and Melman receiving medical attention.
- "The fossa. They're always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off."
- Brick Joke: Alex having a drink and doing a Spit Take upon realizing that it's seawater, which comes back at the end when everyone raises drinks to Alex, resulting in everyone spitting it out.
- Carnivore Confusion: Alex's arc is an interesting take on this — Alex grew up in the zoo and has eaten steak his entire life, so he never learned to hunt and never realized Marty was "made of steak", so to speak. When he hasn't eaten for a couple days, his instincts kick in and he has a hard time coming to terms with his predatory nature. He eventually deals with it by having the penguins make him sushi - apparently fish aren't sentient (in the second film this is ignored).
- Cassandra Truth: Maurice is constantly dismissed when trying to explain that Alex's odd behavior around Marty is because of his carnivorous nature.
- Chekhov's Army: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. Not only do they end up inspiring Marty's plan to go to the wild, they also commandeer the ship and cause Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria to end up on Madagascar, and in the climax they show up on the island too and assist the main characters in driving away the fossa.
- Clapper Gag: Alex has a clapper-activated light over the place where he sleeps in his pen at the zoo, which he uses right before realizing the zoo people left the ambience on.
- Clingy Aquatic Life: When the animals wash up on the shores of Madagascar, Gloria comes out of the water with seaweed on her head to look like long hair, as well as two starfish and a crab stuck to her body, positioned to look like she's wearing a bikini.
- Comedic Work, Serious Scene: This is a comedic flick about four zoo animals getting stranded on an island and getting into all kinds of shenanigans, but after Alex loses it from starvation and scares everyone off, he runs off in shame, horrified that he nearly hurt his friends. This leads to a Sad-Times Montage of Alex getting injured and later gloomily sitting on a rock alone and it's shown that his friends miss him.
- Cultural Translation: In the Korean dub, the Zoosters don't think they're in San Diego, but Hollywood. Likely because a Korean audience probably wouldn't know what San Diego was.
- Curse Cut Short: Combined with Thermometer Gag concerning a birthday gift from Melman to Marty...cue Marty going, "MOTHER...*Phhbbllaaghht*!"
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'm going to strangle you! And bury you! Then dig you up and clone you, and then kill all your clones! And then, I'm never talking to you again!"
- Cutlery Escape Aid: The penguins somehow manage to tunnel out of their habitat by using plastic spoons.
- Cuteness Proximity: Invoked (unintentionally) when Julien first tests the New York animals by throwing Mort to them.Gloria: I just wanna dunk him in my coffee!
- Decoy Protagonist: Marty's arc is front and center at the beginning of the film, with his desire to return to the wild the main plot. Once the animals are put on the ship, Alex takes over as the true protagonist of the film, with first his dealing with the wild and then his Horror Hunger subplot taking priority.
- Deranged Animation: During the climax, Alexs gestures and facial expressions are are very over the top, particularly when he throws a foosa into the air and tells the other ones to stay off his turf.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- This film is much slower-paced than its sequels and is more like a series of related sketches strung together rather than a single flowing plot. Character movements are also much jerkier than in later installments.
- In their minimal screentime in this movie, Mason and Phil have their own distinct Odd Couple personality quirks that never really show up again in the later movies.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: It's about a gang of zoo animals who escape in the city because one of them — Marty — is bored of his zoo life, and the others follow him in order to get him back to the zoo. They are then re-captured and released into the wild.
- Marty's daydream at the beginning where Alex sneaks up on him, and then when Marty has his head in Alex's mouth before retrieving the snow globe, and finally how Alex has a dream about steaks falling around him and he wakes up to find himself licking Marty, sets up how later in the film, Alex will, in a fit of hungry hallucination, imagine Marty as a steak and attempt to eat him.
- When Alex greets the fossa and is scared by the spider on his back, he scares them away with what, from their point of view, is a roar. In the climax, he roars his presence when he saves his friends and drives the fossa away for good.
- Funny Background Event: While the focus is on the Penguins in their habitat, the monkey habitat can be seen in the background. Mason is grooming Phil, who keeps drinking cans of root beer until he eventually falls out of his tree by the end of the scene.
- Fun with Acronyms: "Oh S ugar H oney I ce T ea!"
- Grievous Harm with a Body: During the final battle, Alex grabs a fossa and uses it as a mace against the other ones.
- Groin Attack: Poor Alex was kicked in the groin three times in the movie. First one, during the fight with old lady in Grand Central station. Second one, when he and his friend were surrounded by the police, he was kicked again by this brutal woman! Third one, on Madagascar, when he destroyed Melman's box, a piece of board strike his crotch (knocking Alex into the air and causing to stop and moan in pain once he landed).
- Happy Ending Override: Downplayed: The ending has the zoosters take the ship the penguins rode to Madagascar on intending to go back home on a road trip, but they find out offscreen that it's out of fuel, leading to seeking other methods in the sequel.
- Hilarity in Zoos: The first act of the movie takes place in the Central Park Zoo, where the animals provide some hilarious antics.
- Hollywood Midlife Crisis: A rare Funny Animal example. The plot is kicked because Marty is ten years old and realizes half of his life is gone, and he doesn't even know if he's black with white stripes or white with black stripes.
- Horror Hunger: Lions are carnivores, and Alex's friends are made of meat...
- Hulk Speak: The fossa.
- Hypocritical Humor:Marty: He just shushed me!
Gloria: Marty, you've just gotta be a little more un...
Gloria: Don't you shush me!
- I Am a Monster: Alex says this once his lion instincts start kicking in out of hunger, and his friends start turning into Meat-O-Vision steaks.
- Ignorant About Fire: To get the rescue boats' attention, Alex builds a giant statue of Lady Liberty on the beach, and Melman is tasked with starting a fire to light her torch. When he finally gets a spark going, he realizes the sticks are tied to his hooves and whips them around frantically, accidentally burning down the entire statue.
- I'll Kill You!: Alex angrily shouts this at Marty when he starts chasing him on the beach after their Meadow Run.
Alex: I'm gonna kill you, Marty! I'm gonna strangle you! Then bury you, dig you up and clone you! Then I'm gonna kill all your clones! Then, I'm never talking to you again!
- A particularly ridiculous one soon follows:
- Implausible Deniability: Alex, when he first loses it and attacks Marty.Marty: Excuse me, you're biting my butt!
Alex: (teeth clamped on Marty's butt) ...No, I'm not.
- Inevitable Waterfall: When Alex goes to isolate himself in the jungle, he falls into a river and naturally ends up at a waterfall.
- Instant Soprano: Alex in Grand Central Station after a second Groin Attack from the old woman, says this in a very high-pitched voice: "Oh! Would you give a guy a break?!"
- Island Help Message: They were trying to say "HELP", but the "P" collapses, so it reads "HELL".
- It Has Been an Honor: When it looks like the fossa will overwhelm them, Skipper has a few parting words for his crew.Skipper: It's been a real pleasure serving with you, boys.
- I Was Just Joking: In the first movie Skipper knows perfectly well that everybody thinks he and his team are crazy. He doesn't seem to care.Gloria: Where are the people?
Skipper: We killed 'em and ate their livers. (Gloria looks horrified. Skipper just grins) Gotcha, didn't I?
- Just Train Wrong: When Alex, Melman and Gloria are on the subway trying to get to Grand Central, the train they're on is made of R62A subway cars, but they're depicted as having two sets of doors when the real life cars have three sets.
- Language Barrier: Any time the animals try to converse with humans, they are not understood. So when Alex, Gloria and Melman try to find Marty and return to the zoo before anyone notices, the public naturally assumes that the animals escaped and agree to release them back into the wild.
- Meadow Run: More like "Beach Run". Nothing like realizing halfway through one that one of the duo is really, really furious...
- Meat-O-Vision: An interesting twist, in that the character in question (a lion) is looking this way at a zebra, which in the wild would have been among its prey.
- Mistaken For Flatulence: Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria hear a foghorn and Melman briefly thinks Gloria farted.
- Melman: Oh, G-Gloria...Gloria: That was not me, okay? That was the boat.
- Monkey Morality Pose: When Mort nervously says that Alex is "going savage", there are three lemurs behind him playing this trope.
- Mood Whiplash: The first half of the movie is your typical animated comedy, but during the third act, after Alex bites Marty and tries to eat him, the movie becomes rather dark and depressing, but everything is back to normal at the end.
- Mouth Cam: The sequence where Alex is trying to be friendly with Mort, with a Mouth Cam shot used to show just how threatening he is unintentionally being.
- Mushroom Samba: Alex has two of them after being shot by a Tranquillizer Dart; first time when he's shot in the butt, second time when he's shot in the hand. Both have "The Candy Man" playing in the background, but the second samba is sped up.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Two, and each time, "What have I done?" is actually said:
- Alex has one after he's brought to his senses and realizes he came very close to killing Marty and his friends out of hunger. He promptly exiles himself to the other side of the island.
- Marty has one shortly after that, when he realizes his wish to go to the wild has gotten them lost and nearly killed by Alex.
- My Instincts Are Showing: As a zoo animal, Alex has always had a constant supply of meat and this has suppressed his predatory instincts. However, being on Madagascar has removed his supply, causing his predatory nature to resurface. Due to extreme hunger and withdrawal, Alex goes into a feeding frenzy and Marty barely survives the attack.
- Nature Versus Nurture: Alex's arc revolves around this. His predatory side has always been suppressed due to the constant supply of meat. So when he's on the island and deprived of meat, his predatory side comes to the surface and he nearly kills Marty in a fit of hunger. His predatory side is buried again when he replaces his steak diet with fish.
- Never My Fault: Alex, Marty, and Melman all have their moments regarding whose to blame for the situation at hand.
- After the main characters wake up in the crates, Alex blames Marty for ticking off the people at the station and Melman for suggesting the idea of going to the wild to Marty, even though he also inadvertently did both.
- Marty insists that he's not at fault, even though by escaping the zoo he is indeed indirectly at fault for what happened. Immediately lampshaded by Gloria.
- Melman blames Marty for jinxing them by telling them what he wished for when he blew out his candles - despite the fact that, as Marty points out, he WARNED them that it wasn't a good idea to do it and they made him.
- Noisy Nature: Played with: The main characters are animals in a New York City zoo. Fair enough - but in the background are generic jungle noises. The cast go to bed... and Alex yells that someone left the ambiance on. When that happens, a generic New York City background noise replaces it, complete with sirens. Alex the lion then yawns and relaxes and goes to sleep. Surprisingly, this is Truth in Television, since many zoos do have random jungle white noise played throughout the park to make the guests (and animals) feel more immersed.
- Not Where They Thought: When the New York Zoo animals are shipwrecked on Madagascar, they initially believe they're in San Diego. They are eventually straightened out by King Julien.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The ending of the first film implies this may be the case for Julien. May.
- Oh, Crap!: When the Zoo animals finally realize Alex is a starving carnivore.Marty: What, come on, do I look like a steak to you?
Marty: See, I told you I don't look like a... wait, what did you say?
Alex: Oh... yeah!
- Parachute in a Tree: When Alex demands to meet the people, King Julien points to the skeleton of a parachuter on a tree.
- Parodies of Fire: The Chariots of Fire theme music is played when Alex and Marty find each other after getting shipwrecked in Madagascar, and run towards each other in slow motion. Then Alex gets angry and starts chasing Marty... still in slow motion.
- Parrot Expo-WHAT?:King Julien: Welcome to Madagascar!
King Julien: No, not who-ha. As-car.
- Predator Turned Protector: Alex voluntarily exiles himself after realizing that as a predator, he means a threat to his friends. But when Marty is attacked by a pack of fossa, Alex comes to his rescue in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Product Placement: The scene with Marty in Times Square is packed with advertisements, as per real-life New York. Ads featuring HP, Coca-Cola, TJ Maxx, Circuit City, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and the United States Postal Service to name a few appear.
- Recursive Translation: When the penguins are on a ship, they can't read a label on their crate. They ask two monkeys across from them to read it to them. One monkey recites it in American Sign Language, then another monkey says it out loud.
- Self-Imposed Exile: Alex exiles himself into fossa territory after his primal instincts show and he nearly kills his friends.
- Sequel Hook: The penguins decide not to tell the gang that the ship has no fuel and that they're still stuck on the island, perfectly setting up the next film.
- Shoddy Shindig: Downplayed for Marty's birthday party. The cake was enjoyable, but the birthday song is slightly mean-spirited (though humorous), the presents leave much to be desired (the snowglobe with Alex instead of the zebra, Melman's rectal thermometer), and the Zoosters spoke against Marty's wish to go to the wild. Safe to say that the zebra, while thankful, wasn't too impressed with the celebration in the end.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: The scene of Marty confronting a savage Alex is the most heavy scene in the film, helped by the fact that neither the penguins or the lemurs are present.
- Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: Marty is having a Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis at the age of ten. While it's true that wild zebras have a life expectancy of twenty-five, captive zebras have a life expectancy of forty.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The Sad-Times Montage that follows Alex going wild and driving off his friends, which consists of Alex sulking in regret and the rest of the gang experiencing the merciless side of nature through witnessing multiple small animals being killed, is set to "What a Wonderful World".
- Spit Take: In the scene where Alex finally comes to the "Fun Side" of the island, Marty offers him a coconut full of seawater.Marty: Oh, you don't swallow it, it's just temporary until the plumbing's done.
- Superpowered Evil Side: More like "Superpowered Wild Side". Alex becomes this after spending many hours on the island without steak.
- Take That!: When Marty talks about his wish to go to the wild, Alex takes a jab at Connecticut.Alex: Marty, come on. What would Connecticut have to offer us?Melman: Lyme Disease.Alex: Thank you, Melman.
- Translation Convention: Whenever Alex talks to a human, all they hear is roaring. Nana, however, may be an exception, since she responds to Melman's chant "He's got him!" with "I've got something for you!" and hits him with her purse.
- Tailor-Made Prison: Alex. His Heroic BSoD leads to him building his own enclosure.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Alex is muttering in his sleep about a filet mignon steak before Melman wakes him up to tell him Marty has escaped.
- This Is My Side: During Alex's feud with Marty.
- Toy Disguise: In the first Christmas Special, Private looks for a Christmas present in the city to cheer up a depressed Ted the Polar Bear. When he searches a souvenir stand, he poses as a toy to avoid being recognized by humans. Unfortunately, this works too well, as Nana mistakes him for a chew toy and buys him to give to her pet poodle, Mr. Chew, as a Christmas present. Because of how vicious Mr. Chew is when Nana isn't looking, it's up to Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico to save Private before Mr. Chew chews him to bits.
- Tropical Island Adventure: The main crew are stranded on the titular island after the Penguins take over the ship transferring them to Africa and send the crates they are in careening into the ocean.
- Unusual Animal Alliance:
- A lion, a zebra, a giraffe and a hippo, occasionally assisted by penguins, chimpanzees and lemurs.
- Initially subverted for Marty and Alex; they were raised together in a zoo and don't know any better. At the end of the movie, this trope is in full force for them.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Aside from one police officer, no one seems to care that Marty, a zebra, is walking around free in New York.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The penguins, twice over:
- While trying to escape the zoo, they accidentally end up in Marty's pen and inadvertently give him the idea to escape. This directly puts the rest of the movie into motion.
- When the penguins take over the ship, they make a turn so heavy that the crates with the zoosters inside are knocked off and sent to Madagascar, rather than Africa as was originally intended.
- Victory Is Boring: The Penguins are trying to get to Antarctica, and eventually succeed when they hijack the freighter that the rest of the zoo animals are on. When they reach Antarctica, they find it to be a complete frozen wasteland with nothing to do but stare at an iceberg, so they use the freighter to go to Madagascar, where Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria all wound up.Private: [Beat] Well, this sucks.
- Vine Swing: Marty swings on a vine in the opening scene during his daydream. Then he and Alex actually do it when they "go wild" on the island of Madagascar. Then in the climax, Melman swings on a vine to save Marty from the Fossa.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Alex, starving, starts seeing his friends as walking steak.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: While swinging away from the Fossa on a vine, Melman and Marty slam into a large rock that happens to be in their path.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Alex gets really mad at Marty for causing them to get caught by the authorities and get shipped. On the island, he still doesn't let it go until he loosens up.
- Marty gives Alex one after the latter bites him on the butt.