Penguins of Madagascar Review

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penguinsofmadagascarreviewRating: 8 out of 10

Cast:
Tom McGrath as Skipper (voice)
Chris Miller as Kowalski (voice)
Christopher Knights as Private (voice)
Conrad Vernon as Rico (voice)
John Malkovich as Dave (voice)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Classified (voice)
Ken Jeong as Short Fuse (voice)
Annet Mahendru as Eva (voice)
Peter Stormare as Corporal (voice)
Andy Richter as Mort (voice)
Danny Jacobs as King Julien
Sean Charmatz as Cricket (voice)
Werner Herzog as Documentary Filmmaker (voice)

Directed by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith

Summary:
“Penguins of Madagascar” features more hilarious dialogue and great physical comedy from the flightless fowls. John Malkovich is also impressive as Dave, the octopus villain of the story. This is a film the whole family will enjoy.

Story:
From the 2005 film “Madagascar” and its two sequels comes “Penguins of Madagascar.”

Fresh off of their 2012 adventure in Europe, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private decide to strike out on their own by undertaking a new mission. They decide to infiltrate Fort Knox and steal prized generic Cheetos from a vending machine within. But once inside, they’re shocked to discover an old nemesis they never knew they had – Dave.

Dave is an octopus from the zoo that found himself overshadowed by the penguins’ overwhelming cuteness. Ignored and cast aside, Dave grew bitter and turned his genius towards one goal – revenge! But as the penguins face this new tentacled villain, they find new allies who may actually be cooler and more competent than them.

“Penguins of Madagascar” is rated PG for mild action and some rude humor.

What Worked:
Anybody that saw the previous “Madagascar” films knows that the penguins were the breakout stars that we wanted to see more of, and “Penguins of Madagascar” proves we were right. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private take center stage and deliver a really fun film that both adults and children will enjoy. You’ll all but forget the characters from the previous films once you see these flightless birds in action.

The penguins have already had their own TV show which was a lot of fun, but you don’t need to have seen it to enjoy this. It’s kind of a James Bond film with penguins, complete with rival spy organizations, exotic locations, epic action sequences, outlandish villains, and plenty of goons. In the middle of all this are our familiar heroes. Skipper continues to be the cocky leader of the group with his Charlton Heston mannerisms. His mixture of supreme confidence and obliviousness generate a lot of laughs. Kowalski is the brains of the outfit, Rico is the insanity, and Private is the heart. Together they make a great comedy team. They throw an endless stream of one liners and physical gags that ensure there’s never a dull moment.

Joining them are a few new characters. Most notable is John Malkovich as Dave, the octopus. He’s never done an animated comedic role before, but he’s absolutely brilliant at it. It really feels like he’s putting his whole heart into the performance and he’s completely unafraid to venture into the absurd with his character. He’s a fantastic animated villain. And a running gag where his goons are named after celebrities draws a ton of laughs for adults. (“Hugh! Jack! Man the cannon! Nick! Cage the penguins!”) A close second is Benedict Cumberbatch as Classified, the arctic wolf. He’s utterly flabbergasted by the penguins and his exasperation generates a lot of laughs as well. Ken Jeong doesn’t cut loose as much as you might hope as the seal Short Fuse, but he’s still amusing. More notable is Werner Herzog as the voice of a documentary filmmaker watching the penguins. His distinctive voice immediately sets the tone of the film from the opening frames and as soon as you hear him, you know it’s going to be a bizarre ride.

While the main voice cast generates a lot of laughs, the octopi goons hold their own as well. Their rubbery bodies and goofy bubbling voices make them some of the better cartoon villains to come along in a while.

What Didn’t Work:
I don’t have any real gripes about this film. It was enjoyable for my young son and me. If I had to nitpick about anything, it would be that the ending is a little generic compared to the outrageous nature of the rest of the film. It ends on more of an “eh” than the rest of the movie.

The Bottom Line:
“Penguins of Madagascar” is a sure bet for anyone wanting to hit the movies this Thanksgiving holiday. The whole family will get a kick out of it. And if you’re a Star Wars fan just wanting to see the trailer, it’s worth the money as well.