Spoiler-Free PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Review: 90 Minutes of Pure Fun

I have to admit that going into the new animated film PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, I had very low expectations.  Because I am not a big fan of the MADAGASCAR franchise, I was kind of dreading yet another installment.  But as a movie lover, I have learned on many occasions that you shouldn’t judge a film until you have actually seen it, and a movie like PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR is a perfect example of why.  Leaving the theater, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film and by how often it had me laughing out loud.


The story centers on Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private, four penguins that most will remember from the earlier MADAGASCAR films, as well as their popular TV Series.  Here they are the central characters of their very own feature film, where they must join forces with an undercover organization known as “The North Wind,” to stop a villainous octopus named Dave from pulling off his plan of revenge aimed at the Penguin population of the world.


Left to Right: Agent Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath). © 2014 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.


The story itself isn’t very complicated.  Matter of fact, the plot and themes presented in the film have very little to offer in the form of originality.  But that isn’t the point of a movie like this.  The intention is not to get audiences thinking about what they are watching in order to leave the theater with some new understanding of the world.  This film’s goal is to simply entertain and as long as the audience is having a good time, then that’s all that truly matters.  Sometimes it’s okay to leave your thinking cap at home and go out and have a mindless good time.  That is the strength of this movie.


© 2014 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.


The key to the film’s success is in the casting.  Good comedy very rarely exists in the writing alone.  It comes from the timing and attitudes of the performers.  The four leads, Tom McGrath (Skipper), Chris Miller (Kowalski), Christopher Knights (Private) and Conrad Vernon (Rico), are at the top of their game here.  They play these strange and wacky roles with such a straight attitude that you can’t help but fall in love with and enjoy the characters that appear on the screen.


Left to Right: Private (voiced by Christpher Knights), Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Rico, Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller). © 2014 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.


The film’s animation, like the story, is relatively standard, but the visual gags rise to such a level of craziness that you will find yourself smiling and laughing throughout most of the 90-minute runtime.  The action comes at a fast pace and so do the jokes, which range from quick jabs to insider references that film lovers are sure to appreciate.  John Malkovich, who puts in a stellar voiceover performance as the films villain, seems to be having the time of his life playing the character of Dave.  His continuous use of celebrity names every time he gives an order to his henchmen is inspired (“Nicolas, cage them!”).


John Malkovich as the voice of Dave © 2014 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.


“Penguins of Madagascar” is a pleasant surprise for the holiday season, offering non-stop laughs from start to finish.  It is a high energy, extremely funny, good time at the movies and if you are seeking out some mindless fun to share with your whole family, then this film may be just what you are looking for.

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.