Cast Away
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4 items from 2005


Madagascar

9 June 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A considerable improvement over the frenetic, warmed-over Shark Tale but falling short of that Shrek magic, Madagascar certainly starts off on the right foot, or is that hoof?

When a pampered zebra at New York's Central Park Zoo gets a serious case of wanderlust, his sheltered buddies come to the rescue, only to find themselves crated and being shipped off to Africa.

But around the time the mini-menagerie is lost at sea, the story follows suit, never to regain its bearings.

It's frustrating to see this wonderful-looking, laugh-out-loud funny survival tale fall short of its potential, but that disappointment probably won't rattle the cages of its young target demo, who'll likely go mad for Madagascar's eye-catching visuals, rewarding it with mighty though not Shrek-green numbers.

Paying affectionate tribute to the style and sensibilities of Looney Tunes legends Chuck Jones and Tex Avery, the picture, written and directed by Eric Darnell (Antz) and Tom McGrath ("The Ren & Stimpy Show"), kicks off in high comic gear, finding Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) strutting his way through a fantasy number to the tune of Born Free. Allusions ranging from American Beauty to Cast Away to Frankenstein also figure into the schematics.

While Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), the zoo's star attraction, enjoys living the catered-to life -- as do Melman, a hypochondriacal giraffe (an ideally cast David Schwimmer) and Gloria, a no-nonsense hippo Jada Pinkett Smith) -- Marty's feeling like he's missing the bigger picture.

When he goes AWOL in the middle of the night, Alex, Melman (walking in Kleenex boxes so he doesn't have to make contact with those germ-laden mean streets) and Gloria form a search party and ultimately track him down in Grand Central Station. But before they can catch the train back to the zoo, they're captured, boxed up and Africa-bound.

Meanwhile, above the cargo hold, an on-the-lam quartet of slap-happy penguins have commandeered the ship with the intention of heading for Antarctica. But in the ensuing melee, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria get thrown overboard, washing up on the shores of exotic Madagascar.

Presided over by a self-important ring-tailed lemur who answers to King Julien the 13th (voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen aka Ali G, channeling Robin Williams), the island brings out the more primal of Alex's animal instincts, much to the concern of Marty, who's beginning to look a lot like his next meal ticket.

It's around this point that Madagascar runs out of gas. While motivations and situations were clear-cut and energetically rendered back in the urban jungle, the script, also penned by Mark Burton and Billy Frolick, falls apart in the real jungle, especially in its attempt to deal with those darker impulses.

Up until then, the picture was looking like a keeper. Technically, the folks at PDI/DreamWorks continue to outdo themselves, and the latest level of computer animation literally jumps off the screen with an eye-popping, impossibly bright clarity.

That's especially true of the photo-realistic New York sequences. With apologies to Woody Allen, Manhattan has never looked so inviting.

The voice work, also provided by Cedric the Entertainer and Andy Richter, is uniformly solid, though Pinkett Smith's underdeveloped hippo character doesn't give her all that much to work with, unlike those scene-swiping goodfella penguins.

Madagascar

DreamWorks

DreamWorks Animation presents a PDI/DreamWorks production

Credits: Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

Producer: Mireille Soria

Screenwriters: Mark Burton & Billy Frolick and Eric Darnell & Tom McGrath

Production designer: Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin

Editor: H. Lee Peterson

Music: Hans Zimmer. Voices: Alex: Ben Stiller

Marty: Chris Rock

Melman: David Schwimmer

Gloria: Jada Pinkett Smith

Julien: Sacha Baron Cohen

Maurice: Cedric the Entertainer

Mort: Andy Richter

MPAA rating PG

Running time -- 86 minutes »

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'Fockers' meet with success atop weekend boxoffice

4 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal Pictures' Meet the Fockers dominated the Christmas holiday season. The sequel to Meet the Parents, a hit in 2000, broke all Christmas weekend records and now, over the New Year's holiday, became the top-grossing film ever on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. After 12 days in release, the Ben Stiller starrer has grossed $162.5 million, already securing its spot as the eighth-highest-grossing film of 2004. With $41.7 million in grosses over the New Year holiday weekend, Fockers dropped a scant 9% from its opening weekend. It surpassed the $8.5 million record for best New Year's Eve performance set by Cast Away in 2000, with $12.1 million on Friday. It also topped the previous record for a New Year's Day gross -- set last year by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which took in $12.8 million -- by grossing $18.2 million Saturday. »

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Final boxoffice: 'Fockers' takes in $41.7 milion

3 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal Pictures rang in the new year with a record-breaking weekend for Meet the Fockers and restored holiday cheer to an industry somewhat downbeat because of a lackluster Christmas frame the previous weekend. The sequel to the 2000 hit Meet the Parents, Fockers brought in $41.7 million, accounting for one-third of the holiday weekend's business and boosting the industry to a 5% gain over last year's New Year's frame, according to Monday's final figures. Fockers also broke two holiday records: It beat the $8.5 million record for best New Year's Eve performance set by Cast Away in 2000, with an estimated $12.2 million Friday. The Ben Stiller starrer also topped the previous record for a New Year's Day gross -- set last year by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which took in $12.8 million -- by grossing an estimated $18 million Saturday. The rest of the top 10 films -- all holdovers from last weekend -- performed well, with seven out of 10 besting their performances over the Christmas weekend. Only Fockers, Dimension Films' Darkness and Warner Bros. Pictures' The Polar Express, which dropped 105 of its theaters, lost ground to last weekend's numbers. »

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Final boxoffice: 'Fockers' takes in $41.7 million

3 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Universal Pictures rang in the new year with a record-breaking weekend for Meet the Fockers and restored holiday cheer to an industry somewhat downbeat because of a lackluster Christmas frame the previous weekend. The sequel to the 2000 hit Meet the Parents, Fockers brought in $41.7 million, accounting for one-third of the holiday weekend's business and boosting the industry to a 5% gain over last year's New Year's frame, according to Monday's final figures. Fockers also broke two holiday records: It beat the $8.5 million record for best New Year's Eve performance set by Cast Away in 2000, with an estimated $12.2 million Friday. The Ben Stiller starrer also topped the previous record for a New Year's Day gross -- set last year by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which took in $12.8 million -- by grossing an estimated $18 million Saturday. The rest of the top 10 films -- all holdovers from last weekend -- performed well, with seven out of 10 besting their performances over the Christmas weekend. Only Fockers, Dimension Films' Darkness and Warner Bros. Pictures' The Polar Express, which dropped 105 of its theaters, lost ground to last weekend's numbers. »

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4 items from 2005


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