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Madagascar is a successful 2005 computer-animated comedy produced by Dreamworks Animation. The movie is about four friends- Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the (hypochondriac) giraffe- 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. 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 starts to emerge.
In late 2008 a sequel titled Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa came out. The sequel takes place shortly after the first movie. The penguins fix a crashed airplane and the zoo animals (plus King Julien and Maurice) try to fly back to New York but run out of fuel (or perhaps more accurately, run out of plane) and crash. They land in a wildlife reserve and discover not only that there are others like them, but the Lion pride that runs the place is Alex's family.
A third film titled Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted came out June 8, 2012. The animals are still trying to find a way back to New York, and end up journeying to Europe, where they find help in a traveling circus. Another sequel had been considered but may not happen now that they canceled most of their other sequels they had contemplated making 5 years from now.
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 announced as well.
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. Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman do not make appearances in the series.
The Madagascar films provide examples of the following tropes:
- A Minor Kidroduction: As a tribute, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" starts off with Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman as kids.
- Actor Allusion: In the beginning of the first movie, Alex's face while posing for a camera is the Blue Steel, the signature pose of Derek Zoolander.
- The Alleged Plane: So much so, that one of the visual signs of its malfunctioning is that one of the engines isn't on fire. In Madagascar 2, the plane also has at least three skeletons still on board from its last flight - one in second class, one in first class, and one in the cockpit. A fourth skeleton was left behind in Madagascar hanging from a parachute trapped in a tree.
- American Accents: The tourists in Escape 2 Africa all have New York accents.
- Ambiguously Gay: Aside from the ever flamboyant King Julien, there's Alex, with the issues between him and his dad resembling a father discovering his son's homosexuality.
- Animal Talk
- Annoying Laugh: Melman finds Gloria's laugh "amazing", but nobody else does.
- Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: The animal characters go between walking on all fours to walking like human beings like it's nobody's business.
- Artifact Title: The second film starts in Madagascar, and has nothing else to do with it.
- The third film seems to have nothing to do with Madagascar,but in the end of the film,Captain Chantel along with three officer are sent to Madgascar.
- Ascended Extra: The little old lady from the first movie plays an important role in the second.
- Actor Existence Failure: Bernie Mac, who voiced Zuba in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, passed away from complications of pneumonia on August 2008, a couple of months before the movie was released into theaters.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Skipper, the penguin's leader.
- Axe Crazy: The penguins are a completely psychotic, well-oiled comedic killing machine.
- Badass Bystander
- Bamboo Technology: Marty's house in the first movie, and the plane in the second movie does it twice.
- Beyond the Impossible: Vitaly's ring jumping act.
- Big Beautiful Man: Moto Moto.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Gloria, she was intentionally designed this way.
- 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.
- Book End: Following in line with Shrek Forever After, the third movie ends with Chantel Du Bois and her lackeys getting shipped in a crate to Madagascar, much like the gang in the first movie.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "The foosa. They're always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off."
- Breakout Character: The Penguins, who got their own short, and later an animated series.
- Brick Joke: The shark that chases Mort.
- Butt Monkey: Mort. Even more so in the television spinoff.
- Carnivore Confusion: A major plot point of the first film, completely ignored in the second.
- 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 Gun: "When we need water, we build a dam!"
- Not to mention the bite marks on Marty's butt from the first film, which Alex uses to tell the difference between him and the rest of the herd of identical zebras in the second.
- The diamonds and gold found in the second movie become more useful in the third movie.
- Christmas Special: A Christmas Caper and Merry Madagascar.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Alex's parents do not appear and are not even mentioned in the third film.
- Cloudcuckoolander: King Julien, ever so much.
- Compressed Vice: Melman's crush on Gloria flat out didn't exist in the first movie. It was, however, shown in a flashback in the second movie as having existed for years.
- Cool Old Lady: The little old woman from the first movie, who beats up a lion while everyone else is running in terror. She returns in the second, and actually contrives to become even more dangerous.
- 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!"
- 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!
- Darkest Hour: Madagascar 3:Europe's Most Wanted was the Zoosters' most life-threatening adventure out of all three films.
- The Determinator: Capitaine DuBois. Between chasing animals miles out of her jurisdiction and nation and ramming through office walls and windows like they are paper while chasing the gang, you'll understand what one critic meant saying "she makes Cruella De Vil look like a quitter."
- Doing It for the Art: One joke in the first movie required a million leaves to be created for it. One joke.
- Elderly Blue Haired Lady: Not literally, but the Penguins identify that old woman by the codename 'Bluehair'.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: So much so that it crosses with Ensemble Darkhorse and eventually spawned a spin-off.
- Fat and Skinny: King Julien and Maurice. Somewhat inverted because the fat one is the Straight Man.
- Fun with Acronyms: "Oh, Sugar Honey Ice Tea!"
- Funny Afro: Need we bring up "Afro Circus"?
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Marty (the zebra), Gloria (the hippo) and Skipper (the penguin) all manage to get crap past the radar over the course of the movies.
- The HELP message having the "p" fall down to spell out HELL.
- When 'landing' the plane in the second movie, Skipper has this exchange with the psychotic Rico:
Skipper: Rico, you've had your fun. Pull up. Gear down. Gently. You just want to kiss the ground. Just a peck, a smooch, like you'd kiss your sister.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: "Darn you! Darn you all to heck!"
- Gossip Evolution: The monkeys' relaying of Alex's message changed "Get out of here, as fast as we can" to "We must blow up the dam" and "There must be another way than killing me" to "Kill me. It's the only way."
- Gullible Lemmings: Melman. In the second movie. Julien didn't help matters either.
- He's Back: Vitaly lost his passion after being burned in his ring-jumping act. With help from Alex, he regains his confidence and becomes a star again.
- Horror Hunger: Lions are carnivores, and Alex's friends are made of meat...
- Hulk Speak: The foosa.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Maurice.
- 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.
- I Choose to Stay: The Zoosters decide to run away with the circus instead of going back to live in the zoo.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Melman sees Gloria on her date with Moto Moto, he says something like, "You don't know now now lucky you are. You've found the perfect woman, so you better treat her like a princess." Then he goes on to tell what he would do if he were in Moto Moto's shoes.
Melman: And breakfast in bed, every morning. Her favorite is six loaves of wheat toast, buttered on both sides, no crusts.
- This becomes his reason for a planned Heroic Sacrifice when Melman offers himself up for Julien's crazy plan to sacrifice to the Rain Gods.
- Implausible Deniability: Alex, when he first loses it & goes for Marty.
Marty: ...Excuse Me, you're biting my Butt!
- Interquel: Merry Madagascar takes place between the first and second movies.
- Interspecies Romance: In the sequel, Melman reveals he has feelings for Gloria. By the end of the movie, it's mutual. In third movie we get Julien and Sonya, and Alex and Gia.
- Island Help Message: They were trying to say "HELP," but it ended up "HELL".
- 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?
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Vitaly
- Jive Turkey: Marty the Zebra is the only one of the group to use street slang.
- Keet: Alex is really hyperactive, especially in the first one. So much that Skipper refers to him as "that psychotic lion". This is probably a gag on that Alex called the penguins psychotic earlier.
- Large Ham: King Julien XIII.
- Non-Malicious Monster: The Fossa, as they only want to find food.
- Male Gaze/ Female Gaze: Done quite disturbingly in Moto Moto's entrance.
- Meadow Run: Played with. Nothing like realizing halfway through a Meadow Run that one of the duo is really, really furious...
- Later when, in the midst of Alex chasing Marty down to eat him, the National Geographic Fanfare is played.
- Meaningful Echo: Alex says to Marty, "I'm thinking of a song. It's a wonderful song. I think you're familiar with it." Then after singing, the first verse of New York, New York, Alex says, "C'mon, you know the words. Two little words." Later, Marty says and does the same thing after he tells Alex, who is on the fossa side of the island so that he can protect Marty and the others from himself, that he's not leaving without him.
- Meaningful Name: According to the November 2008 issue of National Geographic Kids, "Moto Moto" in an African language (they didn't say which one, possibly Swahili) does mean "hot hot".
- 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.
- 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.
- Musical Slapstick Montage
- My Name Is Not Durwood: No, Makunga, his name's Bob, not Shirley.
- Stefano keeps calling Alex Alice.
- Never Say "Die": Averted across both movies, though principally (if not always) with Ineffectual Death Threats.
- Nice Hat: King Julien consistently makes himself bigger and more garish crowns with leaves, small animals, carved wood, flamingo feathers... anything. What he does with the old ones is unknown. In the first movie he has two different crowns and in the second he changes between three different crowns.
- No Cartoon Fish: The fish are the only non-anthropomorphic animals in the entire first film, and thus the only things predators can eat without feeling guilty.
- Averted in the second film, with the screaming fish at the watering hole.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Melman the giraffe seems to be a parody of Woody Allen, if being nerdy, neurotic, and Ambiguously Jewish is any indication.
- 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 someone yells to turn off the ambiance. 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.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: If the series continues beyond the third film, it will have to take on a different focus since Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City and realize that they prefer being free after all.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Surprisingly averted in a film where hippos can walk on their back legs.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The ending of the first film implies this may be the case for Julien. May.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Skipper.
- Older Than They Look: Mort. Word of God says that Mort is actually 35. The scene revealing this was cut out. This takes him from cute, to downright creepy.
- Only Sane Man: Maurice - although not by a whole lot. He has a tendency to agree with King Julien on a lot of his majesty's crazy ideas.
- Overly Long Gag: Anything Julien says feels like this.
Talking to crowd: What does that do? Excellent question. First, my sacrifice goes in the volcano. Then, the friendly gods eat up my sacrifice.
- Overly Long Name: King Julien's full name.
- Parachute in a Tree: When Alex demands to meet the people, King Julien points to the skeleton of a parachuter on a tree.
- Parental Bonus: Quite a few references to made-for-adult films like Planet of the Apes, American Beauty and others.
- Parrot Expowhat:
King Julien: Welcome to Madagascar!
- Pec Flex: Moto Moto does this a few times in Escape 2 Africa.
- Planet of Steves: Every zebra in the sequel acts and nearly looks the same as Marty. Alex is only able to tell Marty apart from the others because of the teeth marks on his butt from the previous film.
- Pop Star Composer: will.i.am co-wrote and performed the songs and music of Escape 2 Africa.
- Prequel: A Christmas Caper takes place before the first movie.
- Reluctant Monster: Alex, as in the first film, he doesn't want to eat his friends and in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, he doesn't want to fight Makunga for supremacy.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mort the lemur.
- Rule of Funny: More and more with the series. WHY can Marty soar through the air in the 3rd move?! Because it's hilarious.
- Running on All Fours: Lampshaded by Marty.
- Sassy Black Woman: Gloria is voiced to sound like one.
- Savage Piercings: Spoofed in the second film. When the other giraffes make Melman their Witch Doctor, they present him with the requisite nose bone. "Don't worry, it's a clip-on."
- Saving Christmas: Merry Madagascar.
- Seldom-Seen Species: The lemurs. Also their far more obscure predator, the foosa.
- Scenery Porn
- "You maniac! You burned it up! Darn you! Darn you to heck!"
- Again to Planet of the Apes in the second movie, Skipper says he's so happy at the monkey he could kiss him. Monkey: All right, but you're just so darned ugly." and casually smooches him, to Skipper's surprise.
- "It's a cookbook!
- Mort acting like gremlin on the plane's wing, and initially identified as one.
- Shown Their Work: There's a scene in the first film where Melman sits in a hole in the ground and waits to die, with his will written in the sand. The commentary notes that someone went and researched it, so what was written in the sand was a legally binding will in the State of New York. Also, Phil's sign language is genuine.
- Small Annoying Creature: Mort.
- Smug Snake: Makunga.
- Soft Glass: The old lady flying through the jeep's windscreen. Though this is the same woman who can hold her own against lions, and survived the same jeep knocking her over.
- Soul Brotha: Moto Moto.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "What a Wonderful World" plays while Alex flees his friends and his friends (elsewhere) see various animals getting eaten as they take a walk.
- Somewhat justified in that the music itself is more melancholic than you would anticipate from the text.
- Another during the second movie. While Alex is fighting the old lady, a fast polka version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's theme is played
- It's reprised at the end when Nana (the old lady) beats up Makunga.
- Also in Escape 2 Africa, the plane rescue of Alex has "Copacabana" playing.
- And in Escape 2 Africa, the jeep the penguins steal has a tape that plays "More Than A Feeling".
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In A Christmas Caper, after Private runs off, Skipper tells his men to think about the Penguin Credo. Kowalski thinks that he is referring to "Never bathe in hot oil and bisquick." Later, when the penguins find Private again, Skipper tells him to remember the Penguin Credo, and he replies "What does swimming in bisquick have to do with anything?"
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: the fish in the dried up water hole in Madagascar II.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: More like a "Superpowered wild side" in the first movie.
- Tailor-Made Prison: Alex in the first movie. His Heroic BSOD leads to him building his own enclosure.
- Take That
Julien: Hmm, New York. It's kind of a dump. Are you sure we're not in New Jersey?
- Tastes Like Chicken: The little old lady says lions do.
- This Is My Side: During Alex's feud with Marty during the first movie.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Alex, on his quest to save the watering hole in the second movie. Marty disagrees.
- Those Two Guys: King Julien and Maurice.
- Also, the chimpanzee duo.
- Trailers Always Spoil: In the teaser to Escape 2 Africa, Melman admits that he loves Gloria. At first, this seems to be a gag based on the fact that their plane is falling out of the sky, but it turns out that it's the driving point of Melman's plotline in the movie.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Alex, starving, starts seeing his friends as walking steak.
- Welcome to the Greatest Show: The circus in the third movie is presented in the most dazzling and awe-inspiring manner possible.
- Wedding Day: About at the end of the sequel, we're lead to believe that Melman and Gloria are getting hitched. Then it pans down to reveal that its really Skipper marrying Lola, a bobble-head doll, which was an even weirder coupling.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Good God, the Penguins are so full of this it's ridiculous. Wait, that was the whole point, wasn't it?
- When Elders Attack: The little old lady.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Julien in the second movie. "Which of you is attracted to me?"
- Wiper Start: The penguins' first attempt at Rico hotwiring the safari jeep results in this.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The gold and diamonds the animals dig up at the watering hole in Escape 2 Africa, which the penguins take for themselves. Justified, as the animals are desperately looking for water, and the gold and gems are useless to them.
- You Can't Go Home Again: In the third film, Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City, but realize that they have grown to prefer being free after all.
- You No Take Candle: Alex, while trying to explain his plane crash to the animals in Africa.