image for Madagascar

Short takes


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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Madagascar
  • a review of Madagascar completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 April 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to violent scenes and mature themes, this film is not recommended for children under the age of 8.
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance may be required for some children between the ages of 8 - 13.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 could see this film with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Madagascar
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Not recommended under 8s, PG to 13 (Viol. Themes)
Length: 86 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Madagascar is the story of four friends living a pampered life at the Central Park Zoo. Marty, a free-spirited zebra, dreams of one day returning to the wild, while his best friend Alex, a spotlight loving Lion, relishes the fame and luxury afforded him by the zoo. Gloria, a practical and pragmatic hippopotamus, and Melman, a hypochondriac giraffe, often find themselves caught in the middle while trying to support both friends.

The adventure begins when, after his tenth birthday, Marty decides to sneak out of the zoo and get a small taste of freedom on the streets of New York. His three friends discover that he is missing and set out to find him. This stunt eventually lands all four friends aboard a steamship destined for a wildlife reserve in Kenya. They never reach their destination, as their containers are flung overboard in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Washing up on the shores of Madagascar, the friends must come to terms with the fact that they are now on their own. Once they are finally able to put their differences aside and work together, the four learn valuable lessons about both freedom and friendship.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie, some set in a comic context and some not. Parents are reminded that although comic violence may appear benign, and children often enjoy it, over-exposure to comic violence can lead children to believe that violence doesn’t really hurt. Examples of violent scenes include:

  • A group of penguins consistently hit and slap each other throughout the film.
  • An old lady beats Alex with her handbag, hitting, slapping, flipping and punching him. Later on she kicks him in the groin. She attacks Melman in the same manner, sending him crashing into a clock tower.
  • A New York Police SWAT team surround the friends at gunpoint. Alex is shot twice by a tranquilizer dart.
  • On board the ship, Alex and Marty bash each other through the walls of their containers.
  • The penguins knock out a guard and drag him around a corner. Later they karate chop the captain on the neck. The captain passes out and the penguins hold him hostage.
  • The friends are repeatedly hit, kicked, bumped and bashed into the ground or trees in attempts to “help” one another.
  • Alex gets in touch with his wild side and tries to attack his friends, specifically Marty, who he tries to eat. Marty screams in pain and says “You’re biting my butt!”
  • Marty is chased by a pack of wild foosas (some sort of African wildcat) and is saved only at the last moment.
  • Alex and friends attack the foosas, beating, hitting, kicking, punching, throwing etc. until every last one is driven away.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned scenes, there are a few potentially disturbing scenes in this film, including:

  • When the friends are thrown overboard, Alex’s face, specifically his terror-filled eyes are shown close up just before his container plunges into the water. He is seen cowering in a darkened corner calling for his friends who he can just see disappearing over the waves.
  • Marty looks terrified in the scene where the wild foosas attack him. Suspenseful music is playing throughout the chase.
  • A cute baby duck which the friends try to save is eaten by a crocodile.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children aged eight to thirteen could be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

There is nothing in this film that would frighten children over the age of thirteen.

Sexual references

There are two scenes with sexual references:

  • Gloria bursts out of her container, with two star fish and a crab attached to her private areas. She strikes a sexy pose, flicks the creatures off and goes on her way.
  • There is a raging lemur dance party at which the King of the Lemurs does an erotic dance with a few pelvic gyrations to a jungle version of “Move your body.”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.

Use of substances

There are two implicit references to alcohol:

  • On two occasions we see a monkey who appears to be either passed out or sleeping, surrounded by empty cans. It is not clear what the cans contained.
  • On Madagascar, Marty constructs a bar and offers his friends drinks in coconut shells with little umbrellas. While the scene clearly resembles a cocktail lounge we soon learn that the drink is only sea water.

Coarse language

While the film contains no course language it does contain a small amount of name calling.

  • The lemur king frequently says ‘Shut up!’, sometimes with the addition of ‘You’re so lame.’
  • The lemurs call the four friends ‘pansies’ and Alex calls the lemurs ‘bozos.’
  • The phrase ‘darn you all to heck!’ is screamed at one stage.
  • The word ‘hell’ is shown when the ‘P’ in Alex’s Help sign collapses.

In a nutshell

The movie’s main message is that freedom can have a price and that most things in life worth having lose their value when you have no one to share them with. Some values and issues that parents may wish to discuss with their children are: friendship, loyalty, the predatory instincts of animals and what it means to be truly free. Parents may also wish to remind parents that violence does actually hurt.