There’s often something to be said for just keeping it simple. “Penguins of Madagascar” isn’t any kind of high concept kids film, it’s 90 minutes of slapstick and there isn’t a simple thing wrong with that as it got jokes for all ages, including a few sly ones to keep the adults in the audience locked in and engaged.
Our favorite birds in the espionage game are back as Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private are forced to reluctantly join forces with the chic covert animal spy agency, The North Wind led by Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) against the villainous Dr Octavious Brine (John Malkovich) from destroying the world as we know it.
As an exercise in farce and slapstick humor, “Penguins of Madagascar” is a well executed and entertaining romp that doesn’t require too much heavy lifting in a story that more or less tells itself, but the jokes are ranging from kid-centric to actually pretty damn funny which makes for a solid but hardly vital cinematic experience.
It’s a well directed effort with good animation and 3D that doesn’t assault the sense rather just enhancing the overall experience as we get a glimpse into the origins of some of our favorite penguins. The story is fast moving and fun, at least for the most part as some of the narrative does induce a handful of groans but the jokes and comedic bits are flying at the screen so fast it’s pretty easy to forget about the parts that bomb. More of an animated effort that is designed to entertain rather than being visually dazzling, these movies need some distinct personalities that won’t necessarily distract from the events in the film and while the Penguins are fun this movie does high light that they are much better as support characters rather than leads.
Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights and Conrad Vernon who voice Skipper, Kowalski, Private & Rico are all very talented voice actors but the material leans more towards comic relief in a bigger movie rather than leading their own adventure as we get more interested in the supporting players then the Penguins themselves. The always fun Benedict Cumberbatch is great is Agent Classified who could tell you his name but then he’d have to…you know. Cumberbatch has better comedic timing then people give him credit for and with the right material he could easily leave audiences in stitches while John Malkovich got to steal the scenery as his Doctor Octavious Brine (aka Dave) tries to destroy everything that is cute in the world. Supporting voices from Ken Jeong, Andy Richter and Peter Stormare were all fine but the movie never quite felt as big as it could and always played as more of a side adventure then a pure spin off for the penguins.
There really is nothing wrong with “Penguins of Madagascar” it was a fun romp that elicited it’s fair share of laughs, but it is hardly something that is necessary to see on the big screen.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Penguins of Madagascar” is now playing at theatres everywhere.