Starring: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Simon J. Smith
Written By: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Brandon Sawyer
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins
Remember the Madagascar movies? No? How about the Penguins in those movies? Bing! Like that other animated franchise, the one with the Minions, it seems Dreamworks is making proper use of its ‘steal the show’ supporting characters. The Penguins, like the Minions, clearly the most entertaining component in their respective franchises, are heading out on their own, and so far the results are worth watching.
Skipper (Tom McGrath) leading his three compadres, Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights), on an epic worldwide adventure to prevent Dave (John Malkovich), an evil octopus, from kidnapping the world’s penguin population. Four super-badass, sass talking Penguin action hero spies? How could it fail? A cross between Mission Impossible, James Bond, the Keystone Cops and Hong Kong Fuey (wow, did I just age myself!)
To be honest, the story isn’t really worth the table napkin it was written on, and even borrows some ideas from that last movie the Minions were in – but I didn’t care. Because every element in this plot is plundered for all the humor it’s worth. Every location, situation and character is fodder for gags, and this movie does not sit still for a second. Some of the jokes don’t really work, but a lot do, and I heard everyone laughing in the theater. The Kids were likely responding to all the great slapstick comedy, and rapid colorful animation, and parents were enjoying the jokes about France’s taxation levels, political correctness, and English pronunciation arguments between Skipper and the very British secret agent and dog, Classified* (Benedict Cumberbatch.)
* Not his actual name. His name is classified, not Classified!
If you came away from the Madagascar movies saying ‘I liked the penguins,’ then I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this. Expect fast and furious action and dialog, and a very entertaining 92 minute ride. Thankfully for the most part, Penguins of Madagascar sticks to telling jokes, instead of delivering faux touchy-feely ‘life’ lessons.
This film is well animated, but not in the same visuals league as Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 or The Book of Life. A family outing to a matinée screening should be fun, and save you a bit of cash. At home, a HD or DVD viewing on your TV will service this film well enough.
I really like the character Skipper, as he gets the best dialog. I loved the scene where the team encounter the ‘Cheezy Dibble’s vending machine!
“Well I don’t think I like your attitude vending machine, or your prices!”