I usually wouldn't really bother with posting about a piece of fluff like this, but I really think its indicative of what's wrong with children's movies today. This movie had nothing to offer visually, no proper story, and no characters. Instead, it has flashy, and increasingly unimpressive and plastic, computer generated graphics. Instead of a story, it has the most loosely cobbled bits of plot with nearly non-sequiter transitions (not in a good way). And worse, instead of characters, it has celebrity voices-- Seinfeld most prominently, but also John Goodman, Mathew Broderick, and Renee Zellweger (I had hoped she would be less annoying when I didn't have to see her awful face; but her voice... that voice will haunt me in my nightmares).
The problem with the movie, and with most children's movies today, is that they aren't targeting kids at all. They are filled with references that only adults would understand: the stresses of air travel, Larry King and Ray Liotta, a reference to The Graduate (which ranks behind an American Beauty reference in Madagascar as "most inappropriate reference in a children's movie"). Not only was my kid not laughing, no kids were laughing; sadly, there were several adults laughing, some of them clapping their hands and slapping their knees.
This all seems to stem from an assumption that children's movies are something that must be endured by the parents. And in some cases, that's true, and we do appreciate the gag here or there that flies over the heads of the kids (classic Looney Tunes were filled with these sort of things). Not only are these not actually gags (making a reference and making a joke are not the same thing), but I'm taking my kids to a movie so that they can be engaged and entertained and moved by a film. Furthermore, good movies are good movies, whether they target children or adults, as demonstrated by Mary Poppins or Wizard of Oz and countless others. Chances are, if my kids are enjoying a movie-- and really enjoying it, not just laughing when everyone else is laughing or because it was in a commercial that their friends talked about-- then I will enjoy it too. Instead, they've so concentrated on being "clever" and "smart" by proving that they know stuff that grown-ups know, that they've forgot to pay attention to the kids.
Usually, my son will claim to enjoy any movie that he sees in theater-- he likes the overpriced snacks, the big screen, and the whole experience. Furthermore, he's six! Like any other six-year-old, he laughs at just about anything. He laughed a total of eight times. In a movie for kids, he laughed eight times. Now there were plenty of adults guffawing and clapping at the movie ("Its Larry King! As a bee!"), but very few laughs from kids.
I can't believe that this movie has not caught any critical flack. These sort of empty, celebrity-filled, whiz bang computer movies are killing children's movie much more than critical punching bags like Transformers, Norbit, or Good Luck Chuck are hurting their respective genres.