RogerBW's Blog

Penguins of Madagascar 10 March 2015

2014, dir. Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith; IMDb / allmovie

In this spin-off from the Madagascar series, four penguin secret agents attempt to foil the plot of the sinister Dr Octavius Brine. Or at least to find Cheesy Dibbles to eat.

I should say that I haven't seen the Madagascar films, so I went into this without preconceptions. If you thought this was going to be any sort of serious film, the point at which Fort Knox's break-room vending machine starts sprouting tentacles (don't ask) should rapidly disabuse you of this mistaken impression; the plot is a bare framework to be populated with jokes, and the characterisation is pretty much a parody in itself (the drill sergeant, the junior guy who thinks he isn't valued by the team, etc., are all cute fuzzy penguins).

The action works, without any of the really egregious momentum errors that often infest CGI, but it too is here principally to support the jokes. There's no soul here; everything exists because of the comedy. The opening sequence is certainly the strongest one (with a treat if you recognise the documentary film-maker's voice); the final act assumes more momentum than the rest of the film has given it, and tends rather to flag.

John Malkovich as the villain may overplay things a little (even by Malkovich standards), and Benedict Cumberbatch as the leader of a rival (and rather more competent) special-operatives team is a disappointment, but as a romp in the spirit of Looney Tunes (with quick-fire jokes in case your grown-up brain is still working) everything more or less holds together. And when the jokes fall flat, as some inevitably do, there'll be another one along in a few seconds.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:34pm on 10 March 2015

    I've seem the first two Madagascar films, and I can tell from your review that there are a lot of similarities with Penguins even though I haven't seen it. Everything is a hook to hang jokes off.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1