Friday, January 9, 2015

Movie Review: "Penguins of Madagascar" (2014)

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Movie"Penguins of Madagascar"
Director: Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) are back in their own adventure. It is Private's birthday, and to celebrate, the Penguins decide to break into Fort Knox to obtain one of the most valuable treasures in the world: the last remaining Cheese Dibble vending machine. Just as they achieve their goal, they are abducted by Dr. Octavius Brine, aka Dave (John Malkovich). Dave is an octopus that was once housed at the New York Zoo. He used to be loved, until the cute penguins stole the attention of the visitors away, from him causing him to be passed around from zoo to zoo until he was forgotten. Now, Dave is out for revenge and wants to unleash his Medusa Serum Ray on all the penguins of the world. The Penguins escape with the help of the North Wind, led by Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), who are also trying to stop Dave. The North Wind and the Penguins butt heads on who should bring down Dave and his army of octopi, but they may have to put their differences aside and come together if they want to thwart his evil plan. 

A lot of the times, when kids movies come out, we are hesitant to see them because they can often be, well, not so great, if we're being honest. Having no children of our own is another reason why we're not always pumped to see kids movies at 11:30am on a Monday morning. I don't know why we were so reticent on watching "Penguins of Madagascar," but we were. Maybe it's because the other Madagascar movies haven't been anything to write home about, or maybe it's because the trailer for this movie looked only mildly promising. We are happy to report that "Penguins of Madagascar" was much better and much more funny than we expected!

Each of the four main penguins offers a unique personality and their own brand of humor to appeal to a wide range of audience goers, not just children. Skipper is the gung-ho leader of the group with an act-before-think attitude that often gets the Penguins into trouble. He has a confident swagger in his voice that makes him seem trustworthy and assured of everything he's doing. Kowalski is the smarty pants of the group and his often frank and honest dialogue offers some literal yet humorous moments throughout the movie. Rico handles the bulk of the group's physical comedy and offers slapstick relief by eating and regurgitating up important things like paper clips and Medusa Serum in moments of crisis. Private is the cute and cuddly penguin of the group, an extremely undervalued member of the team and appeals to the sweet nature in all of us. Together, they form not-so-perfect band of brothers, and this time, they are trying to stop Daryl, oh no, we mean Dave, an octopus hellbent on revenge against thfuzzy-wuzzy, show-stealing penguins of the world. Easy to identify John Malkovich provides the perfect menacing voice for Dan, we mean Dave, as he has an excellent mix of threatening bravado and silliness in his tonality. Not in the fight alone, the North Wind (and a couple of bodily humor jokes to go with said name) and the penguins clash as they seem to have met their professional match in one another. Lacking the same heart as the penguins but still brave, technologically smart and wise, Classified, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a welcomed addition to the film. Honestly, Cumberbatch should be in every movie. Ken Jeong voices Short Fuse and was one of the worst characters in the movie. Doing his "Hangover"-esque "I'm trying really hard to be funny" voice as opposed to his normal, more professional one, Jeong was distracting, simple enough. The polar bear character functions as a penguin-obsessed big baby Huey-type, and Eva only serves as a love interest for Kowalski, outside of which, there are no other female lead characters, which is distressing to say the least.

The plot is simple enough with running jokes that actually work and pay off in the end. We may have liked this movie as much as we did simply because we had not seen a film or television show featuring the penguins since the first "Madagascar". We have heard online that this is basically a rehashed plot with different characters, but isn't that almost every cartoon or movie for kids in some respect? We also liked the inclusion of multiple celebrities names interwoven into a lot of pun-filled dialogue. It's more silly at times, but there were definitely some jokes writing specifically for the adults in the crowd that made us completely laugh out loud. These jokes will probably be ones that kids will miss and might revisit when they are older. All in all, this movie was cute and had a great message, though this was only explored more towards the end of the film. The actors providing their voices were great, the dialogue was quippy, and the film as a whole was colorful and zany.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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