I love penguins. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t. They can’t fly, they make honking squawky sounds, and they waddle around like they don’t give a shit about anything. If I could be any animal in the world, I’d be a goddamn penguin.
Penguins of Madagascar is the first feature film in the Madagascar franchise that features the four eponymous penguins: Skipper, Private, Kowalski, and Rico. We’re re-introduced to the Penguins when they’re just babies, with Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico questioning their role in nature. They weren’t meant to march and look cute for the documentary cameras, they’re meant to be awesome! After recruiting the adorable Private at birth, the penguins set out to pursue lives of adventure and espionage.
The film’s main villain is a crazy octopus hell-bent on revenge, Dave. All his life he’s been overlooked by the public, shoved into tinier and tinier tanks to make way for the much cuter penguins. His plan for revenge? To capture all of the penguins of the world and turn them into monsters.
After the Penguins’ first clash with crazy Dave, they encounter the North Wind, an elite task force consisting of super-spy animals, led by the intelligent and no-nonsense wolf, Classified. Skipper and Classified immediately get on each other’s bad sides, each one’s massive egos fighting for dominance over the mission.
Things spiral wildly out of control, as the two teams race each other to Dave first. However, everything falls apart when Dave outsmarts them all and Private is taken prisoner. Skipper, devastated, leads an assault on Dave’s submarine, but is taken hostage as well. Always thought of as the cute one, and not much else, Private takes this opportunity to show his worth, by saving his team and everyone else, but ultimately sacrifices himself.
It’s crazy how smart the humour is. For example, Dave constantly makes wordplay with celebrity names. “Hugh, Jack, man the battle station!” or “Drew, Barry, more firepower!” Absolutely hilarious for the adults that get it. Then there’s the chase scene through the city of Venice, where the penguins go ‘all terrain’ with a rowboat, using their oars to clippity-clop through the streets. The film is filled with tiny little visual jokes and snarky comments that had me in stitches.
Of course, there were flaws. Such as the fairly common villain arc of revenge and lack of real story. The movie moves at the speed of lightning, throwing gags and jokes at you at a mile a second, to the point where you feel almost exhausted. However, it was silly to the point where you can’t even explain why you’re convulsing in your seat with laughter, and filled with moments that make you go ‘aww’. You just can’t help but forgive the generic-ness of the plot for the sheer craziness and hilarity of it all. It was thoroughly enjoyable for the casual moviegoer.
Also, the voice acting is spot on. I’m pretty sure Benedict pronounced the word “penguin” correctly only once. Then after that it was just various versions of “pengwings” and “penglings”. Please refer to the following video to understand just what on earth am I talking about.
No, it’s not quite as good as Big Hero 6, another animated movie that just recently came out. But if you’re looking for a laugh, and not a fabulously written plot with dramatic peaks and falls, then you’ll do well with this one.