"Hold on a second – I'm doing what in a live action movie would have been a pure product placement moment!" Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) enjoys his favorite snack while listening to the details of a top-secret mission in a scene from DreamWorks Animation's PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR. Credit: © 2014 DreamWorks Animation.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, John Malkovich, Conrad Vernon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annett Mahendru and Peter Stormare

WRITER(S): John Aboud, Michael Colton, Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Brandon  Sawyer

DIRECTOR(S): Simon Smith and Eric Darnell


60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): First introduced to the world through the original Madagascar movie trilogy before moving on to their own series on Nickelodeon, the Penguins of Madagascar begins with our flippered foursome as a trio. For leader Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller), Rico (voiced by Conrad Vernon) are living among their fellow penguins in Antartica when they see an egg roll past them ... Only to later save it and be introduced to the baby that would grow to become Private (Christopher Knights).

After explaining their journey to Madagascar where we first met them, we find the quartet celebrating Private's birthday, only to see the party interrupted by Dave (voiced by John Malkovich). Dave – better known to the humans as Dr. Octavius Brine – is a former zoomate of the penguins who was the top aquatic attraction ... Until they came along and stole his thunder. Cast aside at every zoo he was shifted to once penguins showed up, Dave (an avid snowglobe collector) wants revenge and has a plan to get it once he has our heroes in his grasp.

That, however, is why a super secret animal organization known as the Northern Wind – led by Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), Short Fuse (voiced by Ken Jeong), Eva (Annet Manhendru) and penguin-loving polar bear Corporal (voiced by Peter Stormare) – to come in and save the day. But with Skipper and company used to being the ones to being the heroes, they might have their work cut out for them ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: Children 12 and under; people who have seen the Penguins' Nickelodeon show; fans of family-friendly animated movies

WHO WON'T – OR SHOULDN'T – LIKE THIS FILM?: People who haven't seen the Madagascar movies or subsequent Penguins Nickelodeon spinoff; people who don't like movies with simple dialogue, wacky plots and few memorable moments; most people who have hit puberty

FINAL VERDICT – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? Despite having potential to be better than any of the original Madagascar movies, Penguins is a bit like a stray cat – you want to love it, but unless you're a cat person, you might find it more annoying than you'd like, especially since these animals want you to love them.

Penguins has some genuine laughs ... But it also has plenty of flat out silly jokes (even by animated standards), little character development of the Northern Wind characters and a silly ending climax sequence that is fine for young fans, but offers little for adults. In short, it's merely child's play in a genre where Disney Pixar often turns out action-packed fare like the recent Big Hero 6 or emotionally touching, original works like Wreck-It Ralph. Sticking with those terms, if Madagascar is DreamWorks' equivalent of the Toy Story franchise, Penguins comes off like in a similar straight-to-home video release fashion as Toy Story of Terror did for that franchise.

While not a bad movie, it's not an air quotes "good" one, either ... And for a film that had so much potential to be better, it's a shame it landed south of its intended target.



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