REVIEW: Penguins bring laughs back with new ‘Madagascar’ movie

Madison Chan, Staff Writer

“Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”

The boys in black and white are back, and snarky as ever.

A spinoff from the series of Madagascar movies, The Penguins of Madagascar took their highly popular role to a new level in their own spy mission movie.

No spy mission is ever complete without a dastardly villain, and this was no exception. John Malkovich voices the slimy and slippery Dave, an octopus with a vendetta against the attention-hogging, adorable penguins. As he hatches an evil plan against all the zoo penguins of the world, it’s up to Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private (voiced by Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, and Christopher Knights, respectively) to save the day. Yet they aren’t alone in their quest to save the world (and penguin-kind) from evil. The North Wind, an elitist rescue organization, has taken up the mission as well and the members are confident they will prevail, aided by their plethora of super-cool spy gear. And they don’t have room for the “amateur” penguin squad. Skipper is determined to prove to Classified, the leader of the North Squad (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), that his team is more than capable of handling the mission. Meanwhile, Private longs to prove that he’s a valuable member of the Penguins’ team and not just a cute face and the center of a diversionary tactic.

With the classic wisecracks yet adorable nature that made them famous, the Penguins do not disappoint. From their action-filled beginnings as penguin chicks to their newest adventure, there’s plenty to keep the audience laughing. Anyone who has seen the Madagascar movies or The Penguins of Madagascar television series will appreciate the return of Skipper’s slightly misguided military expertise, Kowalski’s frank intelligence, Rico’s unprecedented skill in regurgitating-up useful objects, and Private’s sweetness and naiveté. Audience members new to the Penguins’ antics may find a new favorite in the witty foursome. To its advantage, the movie hasn’t strayed from the traditional roles of the Penguins. They are still highly amusing in their various schemes. Many other parts of the movie, however, were not as exceptional.

Despite the Penguins’ charm, the plot itself was fairly predictable. It was, in essence, “every other” animation action movie made for kids. Evil villain, evil henchmen, evil ray, saving the day, etc. The storyline itself actually seemed reminiscent of Despicable Me 2. While the North Wind tries to provide the stern backdrop for the Penguins’ humor, the Penguins, as main characters, still have to pull off both the silly and serious tones. With four strong main characters, this works out fine, but makes the North Wind somewhat redundant. Overall, one gets the feeling that there are too many characters. With the abundance of characters, there really isn’t room to develop their personalities, and many otherwise funny characters fall flat. While the cast includes big names such as Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong (Short Fuse), and Malkovich, their characters weren’t particularly memorable, and big expectations for the movie fell short.

Overall, there were some really funny moments, but the movie itself was a bit unoriginal, and seems like it didn’t live up to its potential. Still, for a couple of laughs and a relaxing day at the movies, this is a good pick.

So although it may not be the absolute best movie you’ve seen this year, it’s worth it to grab a bag of Cheesy Dibbles and go see some flipper-slapping fun.

Rating: 7/10