Director: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Year Released: 2005
I'm noticing a trend in these post-Shrek 'animated' movies - well, aside from the undeniable fact a number of them (Shark Tale, Robots, Finding Nemo, this movie) are quite bad - and that is that the side characters are often more interesting than the main ones. The four bland key characters (voiced by irritating real-life actors Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer and Chris Rock, who's dynamic on stage but neutered on screen) go in search of their 'primal selves' but are unhappy with what they find - it's far better, the film tells us, to be 'domesticated' and happy with our sheltered lives than to search for alternative ways of living - while the smaller characters (the Cedric the Entertainer and Ali G-voiced critters, the conniving Penguins) provide a temporary shot of zest once every ten minutes. As with Shrek 2, a good deal of the 'jokes' (if you could even call them that) are references to other, much better movies (Chariots of Fire, Cast Away, American Beauty to name but three), making me wonder why they needed four writers. How many people does it take to rent a bunch of other movies and take notes?