(In theaters, October 2005) Dreamworks Animation Studio has perfected the art of B-grade computer animated films for kids (see A Shark’s Tale), but Madagascar is unlikely to do much to raise their non-Shrek profile. Cursed with unappealing character designs and even more unappealing characters (though Alex the Lion gets a pass on account of his pentagonal mane), Madagascar is just unpleasant to watch and not much more fun to follow. The tortured plot seems forced, and we’re left to contemplate over and over again if there’s a reason for this film to exist. The animation is fairly good, but can’t do much to overcome the shackles of the character design. Give me cute and cuddly! The penguins are a rare bright spot in an otherwise unremarkable film. It’s hard to watch without thinking that something just isn’t working properly.