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Family valued 2005


Madagascar, from Dreamworks Animation (Shrek, Shark Tale), is about a lion, a zebra, a hippo, and a giraffe from the Central Park Zoo who find themselves in the "wilds" of Madagascar. After they fall off a boat and wash ashore, four penguins hijack the boat to Antarctica, pronounce that it "sucks," and go back to join the Malagasy fun. Along the way, we dally with nature-versus-nurture, as Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) considers his buddy, Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), as a food source.

Lila (8) and my two younger kids loved it, of course. Lila liked Melman, David Schwimmer's hypochondriac giraffe, because "his attitude was weird." The wacky lemur king (echoing King Louie from The Jungle Book) was a hit with her, and so were those crazy penguins.

But not much happens with the promising setup. Alex is silly and good, starts biting butts, then finds sushi and is good again. It's a buddy movie, but Stiller and Rock have nothing like the chemistry of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in Toy Story. And while animation is great for presenting the fantastical, internal logic takes a holiday. It's too strange that the lion and the zebra can lie down together in a fenceless enclosure at the zoo. And why does Marty's beach dwelling have hardware in addition to bamboo and coconuts?

Lila liked it better than Shark Tale, not as much as the Shrek flicks. "It dragged a bit," she opined. In a world with The Incredibles, and from the studio that made Shrek, we expect more, and I found Madagascar fairly disappointing.

--- Adam Wilcox

This week for families

Brighton Memorial Library storytimes: Mondays 10 a.m. (ages 3-4), 10:30 a.m. (ages 1-2.5); Thurdays 7 p.m. (families) | 2300 Elmwood Avenue. 784-5300, www.brightonlibrary.org

Camp Pinewood Open House Sun, June 5. girls ages 6-17 and families, 2-4 p.m. 292-5160, www.gsgv.org

Family Appreciation Event Sat, June 4. kids' presentations, lunch, Rochester After School Academy participants and families, James Madison School, 200 Genesee St, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Fathers' Leadership Academy Thurdays, through June 29. Parent Center, 30 Hart St, 6-8 p.m. Free. 262-8456.

Henrietta Public Library storytimes: Wednesdays 10:30 a.m. (preschool). | 455 Calkins Rd. 359-7092

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Sat-Sun, June 4-5, Mr. McFeely visit, Sat 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun 1-4 p.m. | Mister Rogers' Neighborhood --- a Hands-On Exhibit, June 4-Sept 5. | Hours: Mon-Thur 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700, www.strongmuseum.org

Summer Arts in Action Program Scholarships summer arts camp for ages 4-12, Hochstein School. 454-4596, www.hochstein.org

Summer Reading Kickoff Wed, June 8. music by Urban Steel, Phillis Wheatley Community Library, 33 Dr Samuel McCree Way, 3-4 p.m. Free. 428-8212

Young Visionaries Awards Program applications due by June 30, Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave, rmsc.org

If music be the food of love...

My son wears black and digs punk rock (especially the Ramones) and I couldn't be more proud.

When I was his age, I couldn't listen to most of my parents' records (Broadway soundtracks). There were a few exceptions. Once, my parents brought home wigs, beads, and the West Coast Experimental Pop Art Band's LP Part One (including a cover of Frank Zappa's "Help I'm a Rock") for a psychedelic theme party thrown by a Cleveland Heights neighbor. Another time, my mother bought B.B. King's Live at the Regal. That and Trini Lopez was about as cool as it got.

Being the oldest, I wound up the hard-core Beatle fan of the family. My three sisters planted their feet firmly in the Monkees camp. I'd heatedly argue the Beatles' musical supremacy but would always be outnumbered. Perhaps that's why I wound up a (former) record store employee.

Sharing a passion with your child can be deep and powerful, whether it be baseball, fly fishing, or the differences between a Gibson SG and a Mosrite. Yes, Virginia, there is a common ground on which I can communicate with my son. And as I share with him the breadth of my knowledge about the history of popular music (especially punk rock), we also talk about life's issues as we explore the choices made by rock icons. Plus, it's really nice to be able to listen to the same music as my kid!

--- Stan Merrell