“The Penguins of Madagascar” is a spin-off from the successful “Madagascar” animated franchise, and while it has its moments of energy and humor, I think it would’ve been much more successful as a DVD release.
The four penguins (Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private) begin their adventure after the events of the third movie. They go from Fort Knox to Venice, where they are confronted by one of their old enemies, an octopus named Dave (John Malkovich). He wants revenge against the flightless birds after they stole his spotlight at virtually every zoo he was an exhibit in.
After escaping, the penguins try to stay one step ahead of his diabolical schemes. They soon are joined by the task force of animals known as the North Wind: a wolf named Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), a seal named Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), and a polar bear named Corporal (Peter Stormare). As high-tech and sophisticated as they are, I would say that Gru and his minions from “Despicable Me” don’t really have too much to worry about.
“The Penguins of Madagascar” probably will work well for 7-year-olds, but that’s about as far as it goes. There are some clever sight gags and the animation is occasionally terrific to look at. But overall, this is a mostly safe, predictable entry in the “Madagascar” series, and I think teens and adults will find it to be too corny.
The penguins have personality, but I don’t think it’s enough to justify their own movie. I don’t think they will have the popularity or longevity that the minions of the “Despicable Me” series have. Unless you happen to have young kids, “The Penguins of Madagascar” is pretty much a missed opportunity in theaters, but it will play better at home.
(Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.