Jennifer Leahy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Cute and Cuddly. 92 minutes of the cute and cuddly penguins that stole the show in the original Madagascar movie. The Penguins have been popular since their big screen debut in 2005 that earned them their own TV show, The Penguins of Madagascar, which has aired on Nickelodeon since 2008. The only logical next step for these flightless birds was to give them their very own big screen movie. In theaters this Thanksgiving you can see Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Private (Christopher Knights) and Rico (Conrad Vernon) like you have never seen them before.
The movie starts at the penguin’s very beginning in Antarctica and moves swiftly into a witty, high-energy penguin-espionage montage, complete with a snippet of the hit “circus, afro, circus, afro, polka dot polka dot,” song from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. This is all leading up to a mission for the world’s finest edible delicacy: Cheezy Dibbles, made with real cheesy bi-products and flavors. Just as the Dibbles are within a flippers reach, a creature emerges capturing the penguins and the plot thickens.
The nefarious villain Dave (John Malkovich) is a highlight of the movie. Dave is a mad scientist, snow globe collector, and octopus who holds a personal grudge against the penguins and is planning the ultimate revenge. It is up to Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico to save the day, with the questionable help of The North Wind, an elite undercover inter-species task force led by ‘Classified’ (Benedict Cumberbatch). Cumberbatch’s voice is a strong addition to the movies cast, nailing the superior, blustering, imperious tone of the alpha dog.
The movie is engaging and quips are frequent but it took a long time to develop the plot and for the real story to begin. The storyline was the weakest part of Penguins. The writers were unable to produce a truly engaging story capable of sustaining the entire movie. There is little difference between the plot of this big screen movie and previously released Penguins TV movies. Luckily, the characters dialogue was able to save the day carrying the movie through its 92 minutes. Skipper’s dry, sarcastic, imperial commentary earned laughs from all members of the audience, and each character played off one another in a very natural way (at least as natural as animated talking animals can be).
The movie isn’t a story for the ages, but it is fun and incredibly entertaining for children with plenty of jokes for the older audience. For a children’s movie, DreamWorks can consider Penguins of Madagascar a success. It was able to keep a theater full of children enraptured and pulled laughs from both the kids and the adults in attendance. The reputation of the penguins remains intact, cuter and cuddlier than ever. Bonus: King Julian makes an appearance with Mort, and it is everything you have ever wanted.
Overall Grade: B+