Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 32 min.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 2; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (1-5): 3
Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
DreamWorks Animation has picked up from the Nickelodeon series The Penguins of Madagascar, which in turn was a spin-off of 2005’s Madagascar. As directed by Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith, the story moves along at a madcap pace, which no doubt will please young viewers and remind adults of the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Indeed, older adults might want to pick up and share the Warner Brothers shorts, featuring such characters as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Cayote, Roadrunner, and so on, and share them with the younger generation.
The film begins with the origins story of the cute heroes in Antartica where human filmmaker Werner Herzog is filming an endless line of penguins marching to they know not where. Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Kowalski (Chris Miller) question this mindless march to an unknown destination. When an egg rolls by and none of the marchers show any concern for the impending death of a baby penguin, the trio break ranks and set out to save it. Before long the egg cracks open, and Private (Christian Knights) joins the trio, thus becoming as some have noted the “D’Artagan” of the “Three Musketeers.”
Almost before we can say “Madagascar” they are sneaking into Fort Knox, not to steal the gold ingots, but for a golden coin required for a rare vending machine containing bags of golden cheese puffs, maybe junk food for health-minded humans, but irresistible to penguins. And then comes a struggle with a mad-scientist octopus, once named Dave, but now Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich) whose evil plot is to destroy all of the penguins in the world. He is bent on vengeance because while living in a zoo it was penguins whose cuteness drew visitors away from him. In the struggle the penguin “band of brothers,” as they think of themselves,” are joined by agents of a super secret agency known as “The North Wind.” They consist of a seal (Ken Jeong), a polar bear (Peter Stormare), a sexy owl (Annet Mahendru) and a wily wolf (Benedict Cumberbatch). These guys at first look with disdain upon the penguins as rank amateurs, but guess who will actually save the day?