Penguins are cute and cuddly boys, and so there’s the rub when evil scientist Dr. Octavius Brine AKA Dave, John Malkovich an octopi masquerading as a human, plots revenge after he is kicked out of every zoo. Why? Because penguins are cutter than octopi of course! This is the very simple plot of ‘Penguins of Madagascar’.
This movie begins with how Penguins became super agents, and left the herd, making them more than just one amongst the many of a penguin brood. Skipper, Tom McGrath, Kowalski, Chris Miller, Rico, Conrad Vernon and Private, Christopher Knights are then abducted by Dave. However, at the last minute they are rescued by a special team called the North Wind, headed by Classified, (a Husky) Benedict Cumberbatch, Short Fuse, (an otter) Ken Jeong, Corporal, Peter Stormare, (a polar bear) and Eva, Annet Mahendru (an owl). The North Wind team has all the latest technology yet improv is not their forte. Corporal thinks the penguins are so cute he cannot stop cuddling them meanwhile Kowalski has an instant crush on Eva. Inter species love was never so adorable.
While the story itself yields no surprises, there are jokes for the little ones and many a pun for parents and adults alike. They seem to be playing a game here with celebrity names. At one point this is done with such rapidity it is hard to keep up. This is like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, (who is mentioned) however instead of seeing how connected folks are to a famous person, the name itself becomes one with the line, as in when Dave quips “Nicolas, Cage them!”
Many of the voice talents from the television series have returned for the movie which lends a sense of continuity for those who were fans of it. In addition, Benedict Cumberbatch as Classified, and John Malkovich as Dave add their own special sparkle to their roles. Since both these actors are more known for adult roles (for example “Sherlock” for Cumberbatch and “Les Miserables” for Malkovich) it is nice to see them change course, flex their muscles and dive into something which may seem completely out of their realm.
This the kind of film where the Penguins break into Fort Knox not for gold, but to steal “Cheesy Dibbles” (a snack like Cheese-Puffs) which they crave. “Cheese Dibbles” figure prominently here, so while their tummies rule, at the same time they are used seamlessly from the beginning of the film up until the finale. The powdery orange prefab deliciousness is spattered over the mouths of the penguins, who in their own guileless way, even while fighting crime, use their wits, know how, and guilty pleasure of the treat, to save the world and themselves.
For parents this movie provides something sweet, clean and fun which both they and their children can enjoy. There is no excessive violence, nudity, or even vulgar humor. This is one hundred percent wholesome fun. During a time when there seem to be many films out there that are clearly not for children, (“Fifty Shades of Grey” comes to mind) it is nice to have an alternative that the entire family can enjoy.